Red-tailed Hawk Movement Update #2

Winter site fidelity & updates from the 2021 Cohort:

As we approach the end of November there is a lot of new and exciting information to share with you all. Let’s start with some updates from of our Red-tailed Hawks of 2021.

Sam: One of our adult females who wintered in Kentucky last winter arrived on the same territory at the end of October, she appears to be using the same area as last winter.

Rip: A heavily marked abieticola, and our first confirmed Quebec breeder from 2021 returned to the same breeding site in 2022. He also migrated through southern Ontario this fall just like before. He arrived North of Frankfort, Kentucky at the beginning of November. He is generally in the same area where he was last winter.

Morpheus,Trinity,Patagium: All three birds are still actively migrating as of their last check-ins. Morpheus, Trinity, and Patagium all bred in the same locations as 2021. Both Morpheus and Trinity appear to be heading back to their respective wintering grounds in Kentucky, and Patagium is presumably en route to her wintering location in mid-Michigan.

Jack: Another heavily marked abieticola who is similar in appearance to Rip. We actually had given up last year on ever hearing from Jack as his transmitter would send infrequent fixes and we thought there must have been issues with the unit. However, last month Jack dumped almost 10 months of backlogged data and we now have his full migratory cycle. It turns out he breeds in Northern Ontario and actually wintered near Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the third bird we have documented wintering in Michigan.

The 2022 Cohort – Breeding, Wintering, Migration and all that in between:

So far, we have been getting some really great breeding locations, and tracks from our newly tagged birds. As we saw in 2021, after crossing the Straits the majority of our birds disperse throughout Northern Ontario and we are starting to get a good idea of this populations breeding range. One noteworthy return came from Rapini. He checked back in at the beginning of November and provided us with an amazing breeding location. Rapini appears to have bred ~ 90km northwest of Fort Severn. This location is not really well represented in the current breeding range maps for Red-tailed Hawks so this great data. It will be even more interesting to see where this bird sets up shop for the winter. Needless to say we were very excited about this!

Another exciting fall track in the works is from Bucatini. I originally believed that this bird was going to use the Straits, but after crossing into the Upper Peninsula from Canada, he worked his way west and is now migrating down the west coast of Lake Michigan, and has actually been island hopping along the way. He first jumped from Manistique, Michigan to Poverty Island, Wisconsin and now he is near Algoma, Wisconsin. Come spring it will be interesting to see if Bucatini uses the Straits as this would mean we will have documented loop migrations for both Lake Huron and Michigan. These were some routes we were hoping to see at the onset of this project.

We again witnessed high route fidelity with 6 of our returning birds from 2022 using the Straits this fall. These birds include; Ginger, Voyageur, Angell, Rapini, Petosegay,and Hallowee. We also have had another bird Mackinaw migrate through southern Ontario, and he is currently in Ohio. Mackinaw and Rip have very similar fall routes, and it is interesting to note that they both spent their summers in Northern Quebec.

Migration tracks of nine birds from 2022. Triangles denote breeding/summer locations, and hawk icons represent current locations.

As for wintering locations, it appears that some birds are going to stick it out in Indiana and last year we did not have any birds in that state. It also looks as though more birds are going to be in Michigan too, which is something we did not predict based on where the majority of our birds wintered last year. It is also surprising that none of our new birds went to Kentucky, or at least they haven’t arrived yet. Last year five of eight returning birds settled around the Lexington area. It just goes to show how much we still have to learn!

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