A (mostly) friendly competition between 2 avid birdwatchers that are also friends/co-workers. Who can observe more bird species in Idaho in 2009? Will they still be friends at year's end? ;-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Finally some Goshawks!

Although the numbers for most raptor species were way up in fall '09, there were very few Northern Goshawks migrating before the middle of October. After a low Goshawk year in '08 and a slow start in '09, I was starting to get restless about whether or not I was gonna get a chance to catch and band one this fall. During my 2 days/week of hawk-trapping, I had not even had a Goshawk come into the trapping station!

(Perhaps a slight explanation is needed: each fall, IBO conducts trapping and banding of migrating raptors in the Boise Foothills [at Lucky Peak and at Boise Peak] using an array of nets & traps. In this way, we usually capture & band between 800-1200 raptors per fall season - consisting mostly of Sharp-shinned & Coopers's hawks as well as American Kestrels. One of the coolest results of this long-term effort is the mapping of migration routes and eventual destinations of banded birds - see this map. For some examples of other catches, see the Merlin and Gyrfalcon links)

Then finally, on my last 2 days of hawk-trapping in '09 (Fri, Oct 23rd & Sat, Oct 24), I was fortunate enough to catch a Goshawk on each day and, therefore, got my fix.

My first Northern Goshawk of the season, a big female - photo by Michele Laskowski

Michele & Katie co-holding the first Goshawk they'd every seen! No, they aren't trying to start a fashion trend with the headlamps ;-) - it's just that it's a bit dark in the trapping blind where they were doing the banding & processing of this bird

A close-up to show the brownish eye color of this bird (usually more yellow - see below)

Now, Heidi wasn't there on Friday and so was a little envious .. and she demanded that I catch another one on Saturday when she was present. Lucky for me, the first bird to come into the trapping station was a Goshawk! It took a while to catch (very windy) but that gave us a great opportunity to watch this impressive raptor in action.

Heidi holding her first Goshawk of the season

Notice the more typical yellowish eye on this bird

Fieldwork is now done for the year so there'll be a lot of office/computer time in the near future but we hope to keep getting out on weekends and we're looking forward to helping out with some Christmas Bird Counts next month!


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