Raptor Banding Report January 25, 2014

By Ben Vang-Johnson, Lead Researcher

Today we went banding.  The day started pretty foggy.  Sometimes it was difficult to see even the nearby tree tops.  We deployed traps near a few different red-tailed hawks over the first few hours.  All the hawks seemed to be in great position to be trapped, but none even responded.  We were getting worried we might get skunked.  The fog finally broke and it turned into a beautiful day in the Skagit.  And our luck started to change.

With only about any hour left on our trip we trapped a dark morph, juvenile red-tailed hawk.  After dropping the trap, the hawk came down to the trap and was caught almost immediately.  Interestingly, some characteristics of this bird seemed like a Harlan’s subspecies, such as the overall blackish and whitish coloration as opposed to the warmer browns of Calurus subspecies (our most common around here), but we won’t know for sure until it gets its adult tail plumage. Hopefully we’ll resight this bird next year and/or beyond and be able to determine if it really is a Harlan’s.  After banding and releasing this beautiful bird, now known as Blue 39, we almost immediately caught a second juvenile red-tail.  This one a light morph Calurus subspecies, now known as Blue 61.  The day started slow, but the last hour was exciting and well worth the effort.

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