10-31-13 Bird Field Note

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10-31-13 Bird Field Note

October 31, 2013

Debbie Leick, Eric Rasmussen, and Adam Shreading share descriptions of a northern pygmy owl, mule deer and an unusual primary feather on a Red-tailed hawk.

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Bird Field Note 10/31/13

Temperatures cool and fall colors brighten the landscape.

Hungry mule deer ignore the brown grass and browse on bitterbrush.

Tall, thick grasses obscure an old turkey’s nest.

A song sparrow, surrounded by fog, perches on frosted branches. After the fog lifts, icy spider webs glisten in the sun.

A northern pygmy-owl elicits non-stop alarm calls from nearby nuthatches and chickadees. The owl eventually flushes and silence returns.

We recorded one of the lowest counts of the season. Above-average temperatures, calm winds, and cloudless skies were present the entire week. Daily counts were below 20 for the last five days and the flight pattern was consistent each day. Most birds were detected after noon, once the morning fog burned off and temperatures crept from the mid-twenties to the low sixties. Birds moved low and slow, either searching for lift, prey, or a combination of the two. Red-tailed, rough-legged, and sharp-shinned hawks made up the bulk of the count. Two more days of mild weather will transition to winter-like conditions. Partly sunny skies and strong winds will accompany an arctic front forecasted through next week. We anticipate good numbers of buteos and the last wave of accipiters.

A Harlan’s red-tailed hawk has a dark body with a white tail.

Weather conditions like this tend to yield low counts.

Raptor View Research Institute banded five raptors this week. While migrant numbers decline as the fall migration comes to an end, RVRI believes the warm, cloudless weather contributed to this week’s low capture numbers. With a wintery change predicted early next week, we hope to see more migrants pass through our trapping stations.

This young Red-tailed Hawk was captured at the lower blind. The curled primary feather on its right wing is unusual; the cause of this abnormality is unknown.

This adult Cooper’s hawk was the twelfth caught this year. In 2012, just five Cooper’s hawks were captured.

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