Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Slow Day Banding is Still a Great Day!

As pêr my usual (as of late) Saturday routine, I headed out to HBMO to help band songbirds.  Bob usually gets out there while still dark, hoping to capture any Northern Sawhets that may be passing through.  He has been successful the past couple of Sunday`s, so I put on my owl earrings for an extra little bit of "luck" and left extra early hoping to get a Sawhet on a Saturday morning for a change.  I got to the banding station at 6:20am and for our first net run at 6:30, we had a Sawhet!!!  So glad I didn't hit snooze this morning...I would have missed it!
Banded and in Bob`s hand.

Banded and on the ledge...he visited for a few minutes :)
It was a slow day at the Passerine station, so Bob suggested if our 10:00 net run didn`t produce any birds, we would close up and open up the Raptor banding station.  So, at 10:00, we had no birds and by 10:30 we were opening up the Raptor station.  This was my first trip to the Raptor banding station.  Rob (another banding apprentice) and I headed over first with the lure birds (a couple of pigeons) and began to open the nets.  Bob "dressed" the pigeons when he got there and attached them to the lures.  It wasn't long before we had a very, very large bird in the net.  Bob and Claude (who joined us during set up) sprinted for the bird.  I was watching in binoculars and saw that it was a falcon.  At about the time I yelled "It's a falcon!", Bob and Claude where yelling "It's a Gyr!!!  It's a Gyr!!!"  It got itself free from the net, flew right toward me, up and gone!  Claude quickly radioed the Hawk Tower to be on the look out for it, but they didn't see was flying quite low and most likely those on the tower had their necks craned to the sky!  How amazing!  Of course, my point and shoot was in my pocket :(

Shortly after this, we caught a Red-tailed Hawk that managed to get Bob pretty good in the thumb. Here is a picture of it as Bob was removing it from the net...
The hawk was making itself big and scary.
After it was banded, I got to release usual, horrible picture of me, not so bad of the bird.
First time handling a Red-tail....big change from songbirds :D
What a big bird!  The small songbirds we have been banding are generally under 10 grams (a few weigh more) and this bird was 1123 grams!  Its wing chord was something like 225mm and many of the bigger songbirds wing chords are less than 90mm!  Seeing them in the hand really gives some perspective to their sizes.  We caught, banded and released two more Red-tails shortly after this one.  When I left, Bob was still holding out for a Golden Eagle :)  One flew past the tower today but we didn't see it.  I hope Bob gets his eagle this year but will be really ticked to get a report of him getting one today.  It was a slow day for banding but an amazing one for me :)


  1. Wow, that's exciting, Tiffanie!.

  2. Sounds like an awesome experience with the Red-tailed Hawk. You are getting to be quite the bander! I actually have a stuffed one in my basement that I hit. It was not nice to hit it!! but it's beauty is still be enjoyed in our basement.

    1. It was such a fun day! I didn`t get to band the hawk...just release it, but what a thrill! How neat that you have a Red-tailed in your basement! I think my husband would protest :)