Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hawk Watching

I am excited to be getting involved in an ongoing study of hawks in Orange County. Scott Thomas and Pete Bloom have been banding hawks for 30 years, and now as a part of Pete's Ph.D thesis. They are looking at natal dispersal - or the known life history of chicks from nest sites - as well as breeding success.
This red-tailed hawk circled overhead as I got my life Harris Sparrow at El Dorado Park in LA county.

Their target species is the red-tailed hawk, but they also collect data on red-shoulders, barn owls, and less often coopers and sharp-shinned hawks, and great-horned owls.
This red-tail was perched at Bolsa Chica, I think its funny that it looks almost the same size as the men behind it.

The research will mainly involve going birding a minimum of three hours a week (oh such a chore) and while out, documenting all hawk sightings, taking care to note any and all bands, including the regular aluminum bands, as well as color bands. 
This red-shouldered hawk caught my attention as I was driving to classes at Irvine Valley College.

Other aspects of the research project include trapping and banding birds, both adults, as well as juveniles in the nest, when the season comes.
I caught this red-shoulder fluffed up for warmth in Santiago Oaks  while I was on a Big Day.
If you bird Orange County regularly, you can help out by reporting in any sightings of birds of prey, particularly red-tails, with bands on their legs to Scott Thomas - who you can reach via email:

He requests that the report include the following:

1. Your name, address, phone number and E-mail address
2. The date and specific location of the sighting
3. The species of hawk, if possible
4. Which leg the aluminum band is on
5. The letter or number and color of the band, as well
as any marks before the letter or number
6. The location and proximity to any known hawk nests
7. Any information about breeding behavior, such as courtship, nest building, territorial behavior and/or repeated vocalizations

Example: A Red-shouldered Hawk was spotted with an aluminum band on its right leg, and a red band with "J" on the left leg. The bird was soaring with another hawk near a nest site at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary on 12/31/01. (info from the Sea and Sage Audubon Society's Website)

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