Archive for the ‘hawks’ Category

Join The Christmas Bird Count

Friday, November 17th, 2017
Join the Christmas Bird Count

 

 

Make your holiday season extra-special this year and do something important for bird conservation by participating in the birdwatching Christmas Bird Count. Every year from December 14 through January 5 people around the world get outside and count the birds in their area or even just their yard.  When you register and participate in the count, you are part of an organized counting of birds at a specific time each year and the information which you report is added to all the historical data from over 100 years of bird counts. The data supplies scientists with critical information on where birds are, the health of bird populations and helps direct conservation efforts. Plus, its lots of fun to do with friends and family!

 

The origins of the Christmas Bird Count are interesting. In the 19th Century, there was an organized hunt called the Christmas “Side Hunt” where hunters would shoot as many birds as they could — the winner was the one with the largest number of birds shot. As people were slowly becoming more aware of what wanton hunting for sport was doing to populations of birds and animals, on Christmas Day 1900, Frank Chapman, the head of the magazine Bird-Lore (which became Audubon Magazine), proposed an alternative to the Christmas hunt with a Christmas bird count. And that Christmas, 90 species were counted by 27 people. Now, there are nearly 70 million birds reported and 75,000 people worldwide who participate – you can be one of them!  It’s easy to do and a lot of fun! Won’t you join the longest-running bird citizen science project in the US this year?  Registration takes place in November – don’t miss out!

 

What Do Birds Do In a Hurricane?

Thursday, October 5th, 2017
The iconic image and story of Harvey, the terrified juvenile Coopers Hawk who desperately fled the onslaught
Harvey_coopers_hawk_hurrican
Harvey, the Coopers Hawk
Photo Credit: William Bruso

of hurricane Harvey by landing on the passenger seat of a Houston taxi cab was a welcome story of hope. Harvey was rescued by the driver, taken to Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and was later released.  His story had a happy ending, but most birds caught in a hurricane are not so fortunate.

 

Fall migration and hurricane season are two extreme events which occur simultaneously.  And when hurricanes happen, they have the potential for catastrophic effects on birds. When hurricanes are imminent, some birds and wildlife can sense the impending event through changes in barometric pressure or other cues they can read. Sometimes they have time and opportunity to flee. But their options to remain safe from a rapidly moving overwhelming weather event are often desperate, fairly limited and not always successful.

 

Add to this millions of birds on migration during this time – birds who are already pushing themselves to the limit of endurance during this annual trek to their overwintering grounds.   Having to deal with battering hurricane force winds, no food or water for long periods of time, finding shelter or possibly being swept up and relocated hundreds or even thousands of miles from where you were, can be devastating. For an endangered species living where the hurricane makes landfall or which relies on a specific habitat which is destroyed in the hurricane, these storms can be an extinction event.

 

There are amazing stories about some birds like Whimbrels, which have flown directly into and through the eye of a hurricane on more than one occasion and survived.  Migrating birds can also maneuver themselves to use the winds on the edge of the hurricane as a tail wind to speed their transit, but this is a dangerous and risky business. There are also many sad accounts, like an entire flock of migrating Chimney Swifts caught in the eye of the hurricane, the survivors relocated to another continent.

 

To find out more about hurricanes and birds, check out this article from Forbes science blogger GrrlScientist which gives as excellent description of what birds face when confronted with a hurricane, what they do and what can happen.

Ospreys on the Move

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Ospreys on the Move!
We promise songbirds will start migrating through soon. Until ospreytrax_mapthen, there is still a lot of raptor activity to keep you busy! Eagles and many hawks are already nesting, but Osprey, who cannot tolerate cold weather, are on the move right now. Having overwintered in South America and Cuba, they are feeling the need to get back north. Learn more about Osprey and follow the migration in real time of birds sporting transmitters at Ospreytrax. You can see their migration in spring and fall and how far they venture from their home sites during the nesting season. It’s a pretty cool thing to be able to track your favorite birds.…and you will have favorites by the end of the first season!

More Nestcams

Monday, March 28th, 2016
More Nestcams
red_tailed_hawk_nestcamCan’t keep your eyes off the nestcams? You are not alone! Keep tabs on the birds you saw hatch and check out some new nesting birds. This month we have new Barred Owls, Red-tailed Hawks and more Bald Eagles.

NEW!!

CATCH UP ON YOUR FAVORITE BIRDS:

NESTCAMS!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
NESTCAMS!
It’s that time of year again!allens_hummingbird_nestcam_explore
Get a front row seat and the best view of these early nesters from across the US and  Hawaii  — hummingbirds, albatross and some very cool raptors:

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
Looking For Hawks on Migration
Watching hawks migrate can be done anywhere along their migration route. There are well known hotspots where hawks can be seen in great numbers on migration. But you don’t need to travel far to see hawks on the move.  If you are on a flyway, you can look up to see them wafting south on currents, or using the front end of a cold front for a push of speed.  Food is also on their minds and some of the best views of hawks migrating are when they come down out of the heights to hunt.

Check out communications towers for Peregrine Falcons.  They often use the towers both for a vantage point and also peregrine_tower because they can position themselves at the same height as migrating songbirds.  They will look like a tiny dark speck as they sit perched (see the bird perched in the middle of the grid?)…just waiting for a flock of small shorebirds to fly by during the day or songbirds at dusk or dawn.

Peregrines can also be seen perched on beaches – sometimes on fences or posts, or even just sitting on the sand.  Small shorebirds like Sanderlings or Wilson’s Plovers are their target here, and you can watch them herd the flock into a tight ball and then break one bird free hoping to nab it for a meal.

I was watching a Coopers Hawk the other day worrying a flock of starlings into a tight ball, which he then flew through.  He was unsuccessful in the hunt, which was a surprise, but then again, even the best hunters don’t always score.

Look for migrating raptors in the sky of course, but also wherever there might be easy prey.  Sometimes you can get even better views of them hunting than riding the winds above.

Where to Watch Hawk Migration

Monday, September 28th, 2015
Where to Watch Hawk Migration
Fall migration means many species of birds are on the coopers_hawk move. September and October are great times to see birds heading south, and this month we have a terrific fall migration hotspot to visit.

Duluth, Minnesota is located on the western tip of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by area. It serves as a gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and provides many outdoor adventures. It is also home to Hawk Ridge, an amazing fall migration hotspot.

Hawk Ridge is a short drive from downtown Duluth and looks over both the town and Lake Superior. While enjoying the view you can see streams of birds flying by. Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory hires professional counters to count hawks, but they also have an interpretive naturalist to help identify birds. Tucked back along the ridge are hawk banding stations, and HRBO’s interpreters bring out captured hawks frequently, allowing visitors to “adopt” hawks and release them.

There are many passerine migrants at Hawk Ridge, but most people come to see the ridge’s namesake, the vast numbers of raptors that fly over in fall. Scientists believe that as migrating hawks head south they turn when they reach Lake Superior, as many are reluctant to fly across such a large body of water. They follow the shoreline southwest until they can get to Duluth and “round the corner” to continue a more direct route south. Hawk Ridge is perfectly situated for great viewing of these migrants.

Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and many other hawks are seen in large numbers at Hawk Ridge. You never know what might show up! Volunteers, educators, naturalists, hawk counters and visitors all keep their eyes on the sky to point out the migrants. October is an ideal month for Hawk Ridge’s most infamous migrant, the Northern Goshawk, and owl migration really picks up at that point too. Migration at Hawk Ridge remains active through NovemberVisit Hawk Ridge at night to see banders release wild owls, or adopt one and release it yourself!

FAMILY FUN: Watching Birds Up Close

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

FAMILY FUN:  Watching Birds Up Close

There are many ways to learn about birds. One of course, bald_eagles_nest is going out and watching them in the wild with your binoculars. Another is watching them at your feeders. But there are long stretches of time when birds are nesting and because they are hidden for safety, we miss seeing a very important part of what they do every year! This is where bird-cams come into play as they give us as unique opportunity to view family life from mating through fledging — and in many instances, give us views of birds never at our feeders.  Watching chicks being reared is pretty irresistable and a great way for anyone to learn more about wild bird behavior.

Nesting takes place at different times for different species, so below are a few nest cams that are currently active:

Long-eared Owls in Montana

Allen’s Hummingbirds in California

Ospreys in Maine

Barred Owls in Indiana – most active dusk to dawn

Red-tailed Hawks in California

Have a special nest cam you like?  Let us know! 

 

World Osprey Week: Tracking Osprey Migration

Monday, March 9th, 2015

One of our favorite birds of prey is about to start their osprey_flyingmigratory trek north and you can watch it happen! Breeding Osprey are found not just in the US but also in  Europe. Scientists have put GPS trackers on some of these birds making it possible to follow their migration patterns, and what a show it is! Celebrate World Osprey Week (March 23-29) by following some of these birds on their spring migration– and your classroom can participate.

In the UK, the Rutland Ospreys have a program that enables classes around the world to follow the spring migration of Osprey to both the UK and US. But any of us can check out their interactive map to see where the birds are in real time on their way north through the Americas and from Africa to Europe. If you want an even bigger experience, have your child’s classroom sign up to participate in World Osprey Week March 23-29, and take advantage of their free program to follow these remarkable birds on their long migration north this spring!

You can also track real time migration for four Osprey in the US with The Chesapeake Bay Foundation. If any of these birds nest in your area, you will be sure to know ahead of time when they are going to arrive! And you can compare your local Ospreys’ migration dates with the ones that are being tracked.

Where To See Bald Eagles Now

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Where To See Bald Eagles Now

What kind of birds are around in February?

Bald_eagle_winter There are always beautiful ducks still pairing off for the season, but often the water is frozen over and they are offshore in the open ocean making it difficult to see them. But February can be an ideal time to see Bald eagles as at that time of year they are in every state in the US except Hawaii. When it is really cold and the fresh water freezes, Bald Eagles comes from all over to visit spots that have open running water so they can fish. It’s one of the few times you can see a bird which was once an endangered species, and often considered a solitary and shy bird, congregating in sometimes pretty large numbers. You can see Bald eagles perched along the water’s edge in the trees watching for movement in the water so they can grab a meal. Sometimes, they are floating on chunks of ice down the river. While it is always a wonderful surprise to see any Bald eagles, if you want to see them in numbers, look for open water in a frozen wooded area and you may have the chance to see multiples of this majestic bird.

If you’re up for a trip outside, here are a few spots in the US to view Bald eagles:

The Klamath Basin, on the California-Oregon border, has the largest number of wintering bald eagles in the continental US with as many as 1,000 eagles during January and February. Many of the birds are visible from the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake auto tours. Call the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge at (530) 667-2231

Nelson Dewey State Park in Cassville, Wisconsin, where there are a lot of Bald eagles December through February on the open water below the locks and dams. Visit the park and head for the bluffs.  Call them at 888-947-2757.

New York’s Hudson River And Sullivan County is less than 2 hours outside of NYC, but is a great place to spot wintering eagles. Blinds are located at Mongaup Reservoir and at Minisink Ford locations. Contact the Hudson River Foundation, (212) HUDSON. For information about Sullivan County’s eagles, call The Eagle Institute at (845) 557-6162.

Watching eagles means being respectful of them. Winter is a time when food is hard to come by, so here are some things  you are encouraged to do for the eagles’ sake:

* Remain in or near your vehicle at roadside viewing locations.
* Move quickly and quietly to observation blinds, where you can remain hidden from view while watching the eagles.
* Avoid loud noises, such as yelling, car door slamming, horn honking and unnecessary movement.
* Use binoculars and a spotting scope instead of trying to get “a little bit closer.”
* Don’t do anything to try to make the eagle fly.

Source:  Delaware Highlands Conservancy

 

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