As we come to the end of this year, we now have full cycle tracks for five of our tagged Red-tailed Hawks. Determining their location depends on how close each bird gets to the cell phone towers their GPS transmitters send data through. It also depends on if the battery on their unit has got sufficient charge to send data. Of the nine that have returned to cell service range we have wintering locations for five of them. These five birds have set up winter territories relatively close to one another in Kentucky. The five that are currently in Kentucky are Trinity (Yellow Track), Rip (Purple Track), Morpheus (Blue Track), Rowan (Pink Track), and Sam (Orange Track). All of these bird’s winter territories are in forest patches surrounding Lexington, KY.
It was also great to document that Trinity, Morpheus, Sam, and Rowan used the Straits region of Mackinac during both their spring and fall migrations. Based on breeding locations we have learned that many of our birds were the northern subspecies abieticola despite their plumage differing from the normal plumage patterns expected for abieticolas. This brings up the question if abieticola Red-tailed Hawks are polymorphic, how large of a gradient of different plumages are found within this sub-species? We hope our tagged birds will help answer this question through genetic work being done by my collaborators.
Stay tuned as we hope to have more updates on our other tagged birds, and for upcoming plans for this next spring. As always be sure to check out other work being done by my collaborators at https://redtailedhawkproject.org/ .