Raptor Banding: Week 6

Most of the past week kept us fairly busy, with large numbers of juvenile raptors moving through the straits. It’s fairly typically to have big pushes of breeding adults come through first as they need to get back to their breeding grounds to establish territories, find mates, and build nests. The nonbreeding birds are in less of a rush as they will not be breeding, so larger pushes of those birds tend to come later in the season. In the past few days we banded the first Broad-winged Hawk of the season, which was a juvenile.

We also banded the first juvenile dark morph Red-tailed Hawk of the season on May 10th. Note the darker adult feathers coming in on the upper back. A truly stunning bird!

As mentioned at the beginning, we have begun to see many more juvenile birds coming through. Some characteristics of juveniles include having lighter colored eyes. As the birds age, their eyes begin to darken. In Red-tailed Hawks, the younger birds don’t have a red tail yet. Both of these characteristics can be noted in the pictures below. Note the one bird whose adult tail feathers have started coming in!

The season totals are as follows:

Red-tailed Hawks: 91

Red-shouldered Hawks: 2

Northern Harriers: 9

Cooper’s Hawks: 7

Sharp-shinned Hawks: 54

American Kestrels: 2

Northern Goshawks: 2

Merlins: 3

Broad-winged Hawks: 1

Total: 171

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