Last week Peter was given an opportunity to spend four nights along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, on the tail end of one of the world's largest shorebird migrations. The flocks of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds had already moved north, however, stragglers were still plentiful from Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge north to Moclips. These massive shorebird migrations are accompanied by peregrine falcons, merlins, and bald eagles. The latter were seen along the edges of the tidal flats, often hundreds of yards wide, before the flats meet the sand dunes and cliffs topped with pine trees, where eagles would often sit and watch. Although none of the speedy falcons were seen, the wonderfully hyper shorebirds were everywhere. The video records their frantic feeding along the tidal flats. Most common in the video are sanderlling, dunlin, and smaller groups of the larger whimbrels. An occasional black-bellied plover was spotted, always on its own, although California gulls and crows were never too far away. ...
Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Anne writing today, and yesterday I had the privilege of spending a few hours at the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies Chatfield Banding Station. I try to get out there at least one day a year, and provide an extra pair of hands to hold soft, cloth bags for songbirds, and note the number of the nets where the various species have been caught. It's all I'm qualified to do; watching expert bird banders like Meredith McBurney, extricate, measure, weigh and band a tiny songbird like a house wren, who weighs all of about 9 grams (barely a third of a mouse!) is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. These marvelous birds, comprising dozens of species, are SO tiny compared to raptors, yet they too migrate thousands of miles, showing remarkable fidelity to their spring habitats here in the U.S.
Every once in a while, an opportunistic "ornithophagic" raptor, usually a sharp-shinned hawk, will try to snag a meal, or just be out hunting the habitat as usual, enjoying the sudden bounty of returning songbirds. But on Sunday, a sharp-eyed BCR volunteer managed to secure an adult male Cooper's hawk that had just struck a net, all while avoiding injury to him, the other bird in the net, as well as herself. All I know is that when I approached the banding work area, I was told to get there pronto! There is NOTHING like holding a wild raptor...fresh, healthy, with perfectly-sharp beak and talons. It's pure magic! In this video you'll see Master Bander Meredith McBurney (also ace public speaker and crowd educator), ably assisted by volunteer Emily Snode-Brenneman, placing a band on their unexpected capture. You'll also hear me accidentally refer to the big boy as a sharp-shinned hawk, but he is a COOPER'S. Blame it on my shock and giddiness: this was the first Cooper's hawk caught at the Chatfield station since 2008! Thank you to Theresa Johnson for shooting the video and kindly sending it to us. ...
Vaccination Day! Today we vaccinated all of our raptors against West Nile virus. Some birds, like our two year old female bald eagle, will receive a second vaccination in three weeks, since she's never been inoculated before. Condor-sized THANK YOU to Dr. Alison Hazel, DVM, who donated her time to expertly poke and prod 27 raptors this morning! And, we couldn't have done it without docents Jennifer Redmond (shown holding our "mature" 😉 female bald eagle, now 31 years old), and Beverly Rice, who kept everything straight and made sure we dotted our I's and crossed our T's!
A big shout out everyone who's contributed to our vaccine fund...it's so greatly appreciated! You may still help out if you wish...just go to www.usaref.org/vaccinations/
Yesterday, the bald eagle's nest in Commerce City was buffeted by some hot winds and the female eagle was busy feeding her youngster when I arrived. As you watch her tearing apart what's left of the rabbit, she finally rewards herself with a massive piece of skin and flesh. I was amazed that she managed to swallow the entire piece! Then she departed and spent about 30 minutes in the marsh below the nest drinking some water before she returning to perch in an adjacent tree. The eaglet's profile reveals a massive crop (bulge in the front of the lower neck), which means he or she is eating very well. Dad, no doubt, is off somewhere hunting! ...
A very happy announcement to everyone familiar with the golden eagles which have nested on Wildcat Mountain in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Yesterday, Mark Giebel, Lead Biologist with the HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Area, confirmed that the nest has TWO eaglets. Two golden eagle babies is a rarity for this species. Usually the younger eaglet is killed by the older, stronger sibling. In the video, both youngsters appear to be very healthy! Dad is also shown in the opening seconds, perched about 100 yards away from the nest on the same cliff, but with a much better view of everything to the north. Mom is busy with the youngsters. Sorry for the wobble; it was windy and with the extended 1350 mm zoom, things tend to get a little distorted.
This is the same pair that sucessfully fledged one baby in 2014. We were honored to assist in banding that eaglet three years ago this month. Unfortunately the nest failed in 2015 and 2016, so this is extremely good news. Thanks also to sharp-eyed and vigilant Backcountry volunteer Libby Price for keeping an eye on this nest. Go, Mother Eagle! ...
Raptor Education Foundation is a Certified Mile High United Way Affiliated Agency
Mile High United Way: (REF) Designation Code: 0294
Anne Price — Corp. Secretary, Peter Reshetniak — President
Anne Price — Curator
Research & Project Associates
David Goode, Architect:Eagles Landing
Docent & Volunteer Staff
Elise Bales, Morgan Brantmeyer, Chris Canipe, Kevin Corwin, Dorothy Gibson, Kristin Gruebmeyer, Bernhard Hafner, Jennifer McAllister, Melissa Nesavich, Anne Price, Jennifer Redmond, Beverly Rice, Peter Reshetniak, Mitch Skinner, Skye Taylor, Tom Weber
Eagle Brigade , 2017
Cheri Bossio, Kim Kistler, Debra Van Sickle, Lance Van Sickle, Marilyn Stevens, Millie Young, Richard Young,
Docents In Training
Linda Julia, Jessica Wolf
Fairfield & Woods
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