Skagit Flats Wintering Raptors

Color-Banded Red-Tailed Hawk

2013-14 Field Season: November through February. Help research raptors on the Skagit Flats!

Raptors Wintering on the Skagit Flats, Skagit County, Washington  The non-breeding period is an important time in a bird’s annual cycle.  Winter site quality can have a significant impact on a bird’s survival and future productivity, and conservationists have determined that addressing the wintering period in conservation plans is essential in the conservation of bird species. Although raptors are well studied, there is still much to be learned pertaining to their wintering habits.  The Skagit Flats is known to support a large and important winter population of raptors.  As part of PSBO’s apprentice program, Ben Vang-Johnson has initiated a raptor study investigating winter site fidelity within year and across years, winter population trends and relative abundance, and winter demographics of the winter raptor population on the Skagit Flats, Skagit County, Washington (click here to view study area).  PSBO will use road surveys, color banding, and re-sighting methods to accomplish these objectives.

The road surveys will be used to determine winter population trends and relative abundance of all wintering raptors on the Skagit Flats.  The color banding and re-sighting will be used to determine winter site fidelity of a subset of the raptor species found on the Skagit Flats; red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, American kestrel, merlin, and Cooper’s hawks.  The study started during November 2012 and is expected to run for a minimum of 4 successive winter seasons.  The overall goals of this study are to contribute new knowledge of winter raptor populations in areas where current knowledge is limited, to monitor and assess an important winter raptor population, and to mobilize citizen scientists in the participation of local science and conservation.  The findings of these studies will be important for land-use planning and wildlife management on the Skagit Flats, and in Washington State in general.

If you are interested in volunteering on this project please contact Ben Vang-Johnson (bvjohnson87@gmail.com).