Thursday, September 13, 2007

Falcons Flying

I'm way overdue in writing a first post about Bonney Butte, the hawk migration trapping and banding station that I help set up and run each fall. We sit in a blind perched atop a north-south ridge (just southeast of Mt. Hood) from which we lure in and attempt to capture migrating hawks, falcons, and eagles. (About 500 captures has been our average the past few years.) We take measurements and give each bird a uniquely-numbered leg band before releasing it, the point being to learn more about the movements of these fascinating creatures. Bonney Butte is one of about 13 such sites operated by HawkWatch International, a non-profit conservation organization.

Anyway, we've been open for business since August 27th, and yesterday tallied the 100th capture of the year. The main flights don't begin until just about now, so the days ahead are eagerly anticipated. Yesterday, we had a Prairie Falcon (like the one pictured above) show some interest, but we were unable to close the deal. This species is one of those "gourmet birds"--ones we capture much less frequently than the Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, and Red-tailed Hawks that account for most of the migrating raptors.

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