Red-tailed Hawk Movement Update

“Patagium” one of our GPS tagged Red-tailed Hawks

The raptor banding season so far has been very productive, as of April 28th we stand at 121 raptors banded of 6 species. It is also worth noting that we have not even been banding for a month, and have lost quite a few days due to weather, so we are happy to say the least! Apart from this, we also have another project going on in conjunction with our raptor banding. This is our Red-tailed hawk project.

As many of you know tens of thousands of RTHAs cross the Straits of Mackinac during spring migration, but it is unknown where their next stopover sites occur or where their specific breeding grounds are. By deploying GPS/GSM transmitters on adult RTHAs we are hoping to answer questions about why the straits serve as such a favourable migration corridor and hope to quantify that shorelines of large bodies of water act as diversion lines or barriers for migratory raptors including RTHAs. We can also determine where these birds breed and gain information on the specific timing and document the full cycle migration of the RTHA. This is also something that has not yet been done for this species in this area.

Now for some movement updates. We so far have deployed a total of 11 units between April 1st and the 17th. Since that time, we have accumulated nearly 15,000 GPS points from all of our birds plus a ton a behavioural and environmental data. Of the 11 birds, 7 are already in Canada and to be more specific in various locations across Northern Ontario. The other 4 birds all last checked in while in the eastern Upper peninsula an area that seems to lack any good cell service. The map below shows the tracks for all 11 birds and the 7 that are in Canada have their names beside their tracks. I am beyond excited to find out where these birds decide to breed and I am looking forward to sharing with you what we find out along the way!

Combined movement map for all of our tagged RTHA April 2021.

2021 Spring Season Totals

38+ 2(foreign) Sharp-shinned Hawks

3 Merlin

4 Northern Harriers

2 Coopers Hawks

1 Red-shouldered Hawk

71 Red-tailed Hawks

Season Total: 119 New 2 Foreign

Grand total = 121

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