Thursday, September 24, 2015

3rd Weekend of Banding 2015

Hi All,

Here is my third report of the 2015 banding season, covering the weekend of September 19, 2015.

At 7:45 I met Rick, Chuck and Nancy at the McDonalds on London Road, had a bite to eat and headed up to Hawk Harbor. Todd had come up on Friday and was already set up and waiting for us with a shin when we got there. Trudi stayed home this weekend to take care of our grandsons. Two falconer friends of mine, Curt Ruthenbeck and Mike Klimas, had also come up to camp at Hawk Harbor and set up their trapping stations farther up the shore.

Rick drove Nancy, Chuck and me up to the main blind. We set up our rig and were ready to go at 9:30 am. The sky was clear blue with very light Southwest winds. Curt came up to join us for the morning while he waited for Greg Mikkelson to go with him up to Greg's trapping site. We banded the shin that Todd gave us and started catching some of our own. Our first bird, another shin with a full crop, came in at 9:38. We caught another shin and had a couple bounce outs when Mavis Magnuson, her nephew Larry, and his friend Ron came up for the day. Mavis worked for the airfreight department at Northwest Airlines when I was Curator of Education Birds at The Raptor Center. She made sure our education birds arrived safely when we were doing programs all over the country. She has come up to the banding station every year since.

We caught another shin and at 10:18, a young Red-tailed hawk started a long steady glide from out over the barn, and ploughed right in. We caught three more shins and at the first lull in the action, we had Mavis release the red-tail. Right after that we did a six-shin release. At 12:18 a spunky little male Merlin came shooting in from the fake owl and hit the front net. Nancy got to release that one. At 2:40 Todd brought up another bird, this time a young Broad-winged hawk. We caught only one more shin that day. We closed down at 6:00.

When we got back to Hawk Harbor, Greg had arrived and Steve Zimba had also come and set up his tent. Mike headed into town to pick up supplies while Rick, Nancy, Chuck, Todd, Curt, Greg, Steve and I headed over to Emily's Lighthouse restaurant for supper.
I ordered my 73rd hot meat loaf sandwich with fried onions, mushrooms, and an extra cup of gravy. After that, we all went back to Hawk Harbor for a nice campfire.

We got a total of 14 birds and 3 bounce-outs on Saturday.
1 Red-tailed hawk, 1 Broad-winged hawk, 1 Merlin and 11 Sharp-shinned hawks.

On Sunday morning the skies were clear and there was no wind. We had everything set up and ready to go at 8:00 am. At 8:11 we caught our first bird of the day, a young female shin. Lots of birds started moving and we caught three more shins, did a triple release and then caught a young male Merlin and a young male American kestrel. Around 9:30 Troy Holkestad and his wife Kris came up. Troy's Dad Ken was a great falconer friend and also a raptor bander, operating for many years up on Moose Mountain near Duluth. At 10:38 a young female Cooper's hawk came blasting in from the North and at 10:52 we got a DOUBLE!!! Two adult female shins! Troy and Kris released the shins.

Troy and Kris left when the group from the Minnesota Zoo arrived around 11:00. Gina Goralski brought up six environmental educators who had signed up for a trip sponsored by the Zoo. This was the Zoo's second annual hawk migration tour to the North shore including stops at our place and Hawk Ridge. I went down to meet them at the road, gave my migration talk, and brought them up to the blind for a quick tour of our set up before settling in. While I was talking to the group out in front of the nets and explaining how they worked, Rick called out for us to freeze and lured down a young female shin! It flew right over eight people and hit the net right next to us. I took a deep bow with an arm flourish and exclaimed loudly, "AND THAT IS HOW IT WORKS!!!" We could not have scripted that show any better! We caught three more shins while they were there and everyone got to release a bird. When they left I walked back down to the cars with them and handed out art prints, bookmarks and identification sheets.

We closed down for the day at 4:00 pm. Rick, Nancy and Chuck left for home and I went in to Duluth to meet my good friends Liz Copeland and Larry Miller from Illinois who have been coming up for several years. Larry is one of my greatest longtime falconry friends and Liz is a naturalist from the Chicago area. Liz bought our supper at the Culvers in Miller Hill Mall, right across the street from the Day's Inn where they were staying. When I got back to Hawk Harbor the moon was shining so bright in the clear Northern air, I had to take a photo of it.

We got a total of 16 birds and 5 bounce-outs on Sunday.
1 American kestrel, 1 Merlin, 1 Cooper's hawk and 13 Sharp-shinned hawks.

On Monday morning I hiked up to the blind and had everything set up and ready to go by 8:00 am. I gave the lure line a tug and a young female shin came out of the back woods and hit the back of the back net. Whoop Dee Do!!! Liz and Larry were supposed to meet me at Hawk Harbor around 8:00 am, so I called them to say I was up at the blind with a bird already in hand. While I was on the phone to Larry, I was moving the lure a little and a female American kestrel blasted into the net from the South. When Liz and Larry arrived we did a double release with the shin and kestrel. Liz's main objective on this year's trip was to see a Merlin for her birding life list. At 9:21 we had a young female Merlin buzz the fake owl and then make a wide pass at us toward the South. Just then it turned around and came screaming back, straight into the net. Congratulations Liz, you get to release it!!! Right after that we had another shin come in but it bounced out.

Around 10:00 my friend Katie Burns, who works for Minnesota Audubon and The Raptor Center, was supposed to come up with her Aunt. She arrived, but her Aunt had sustained an injury running in a triathlon, so Katie came alone. She had just settled in when we got another shin. At 10:35 we saw a small falcon coming straight at us from over the draw. It hit the net and we had our second Merlin of the day! We caught two more shins and at noon we saw a young male Peregrine falcon pass right over us without dipping a wing. At 12:55 we saw another Peregrine, this time a young female, but it passed us to the North without looking at us. Just after 1:00 a young Red-tailed hawk locked on and started a long slanting dive into the net. Our first red-tail of the weekend!

My friend Marc Rude pulled up around 1:30. Right after he got there we saw another Peregrine flying over the farm and on to the South of us. We caught 4 more shins and just before we closed down, a Sandhill crane landed in the field. Liz and I stalked over closer to it and got some photos. We closed down for the day at 5:00.

Liz, Katie, Larry, Marc and I drove over to Emily's Lighthouse for supper. After all my raving about how good the smothered meatloaf was, Liz and Katie decided to try it while I ordered my 74th hot meatloaf sandwich with fried onions, mushrooms, AND, an extra cup of gravy. Katie headed home to the cities, Liz and Larry went back in to Duluth, Marc and I camped out at Hawk Harbor.

We got a total of 13 birds and 1 bounce-out on Monday.
1 Red-tailed hawk, 1 American kestrel, 2 Merlins and 9 Sharp-shinned hawks.

I woke up early on Tuesday so I hiked up to the blind and got set up before the others arrived. On the way up the hill I had to stop and take a photo back toward the farm and the beautiful sunrise. I was set up and ready to go at 7:30. I caught the first bird of the day, a young male Sharp-shinned hawk, at 7:42. Liz, Larry and Marc came up around 7:45. The second bird we got was an adult Sharp-shinned hawk at 7:58. We took some photos and Liz and Larry did a double release. After that we had two shins bounce out, we caught four more shins, we had another one bounce out and then caught two more shins.

Around 1:00 Randy Burington, a falconer from Tower, Minnesota, who works for the Canadian National railroad, had just attended a meeting in Two Harbors and stopped up on his way home. Right after he got there we noticed a Blue Jay struggling in the back net. We got it out and Randy let it go. We caught two more shins that Randy and Marc released. Just to put the finishing touch on Liz's great trip to see Merlins, we caught two more Merlins! We closed down for the four-day weekend at 5:00.

Randy headed home while Liz, Larry, Marc and I went into Duluth to have supper at the Perkins on London Road. Liz and Larry were going to stay another day to do some sightseeing at Hawk Ridge, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Palisade Head. Marc and I drove home that night.

We got a total of 12 birds and 3 bounce-outs on Tuesday.
2 Merlins and 10 Sharp-shinned hawks.

Total for the long weekend was 55 birds and 12 bounce-outs.
1 Broad-winged hawk, 2 Red-tailed hawks, 2 American kestrels, 6 Merlins,
1 Cooper's hawk and 43 Sharp-shinned hawks.

Grand Total for the year is 86.

Age and sex of all birds that bounce-out are obviously a "best guesstimate" by the closest witness and should not be considered hard data.

Please help hawks by supporting:
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory (
The Raptor Center (
The National Eagle Center (

Keep your eyes on the skies.

Frank & Trudi Taylor

01. A young Sharp-shinned hawk sitting behind the blind.

02. Rick and Chuck taking a shin out of the net.

03. Young male Sharp-shinned hawk.

04. Ron, Mavis and Larry with a shin.

05. A young Red-tailed hawk.

06. Rick, Nancy, Curt, Chuck, Mavis, Larry and Ron holding hawks.

07. Mavis about to release the Red-tailed hawk.

08. Mavis releasing the Red-tailed hawk.

09. Chuck, Mavis, Ron, Larry, Curt and Nancy about to do a six-shin release.

10. Chuck, Mavis, Ron, Larry, Curt and Nancy doing a six-shin release.

11. A young male Merlin.

12. Chuck holding the Merlin.

13. Chuck showing the Merlin to Mavis, Ron and Larry.

14. Nancy and Chuck holding the Merlin.

15. Chuck and Nancy releasing the Merlin.

16. Young Broad-winged hawk that Todd caught.

17. Chuck holding the Broad-winged hawk

18. A young Broad-winged hawk.

19. Chuck banding the Broad-winged hawk.

20. A young Broad-winged hawk.

21. A young Sharp-shinned hawk.

22. A young Broad-winged hawk.

23. Comparing the shin and broad-wing.

24. Rick about to release the shin.

25. Rick releasing the shin.

26. Nancy and Chuck holding the Broad-winged hawk.

27. Chuck releasing the Broad-winged hawk.

28. Steve, Curt, Greg, Todd, Rick, Nancy and Chuck at Emily's Lighthouse restaurant. That is my 73rd hot meatloaf sandwich sitting on the table, down in front.

29. An early Sunday morning adult female Sharp-shinned hawk.

30. Nancy, Chuck, and Rick holding Sharp-shinned hawks.

31. Rick, Chuck and Nancy doing a triple shin release.

32. A young male Merlin.

33. Rick and Chuck taking the Merlin out of the net.

34. Rick taking a young male American kestrel out of the net.

35. Chuck comparing the merlin and kestrel.

36. A Merlin and an American kestrel.

37. A young male Merlin.

38. A young male American kestrel.

39. A young male American kestrel.

40. A male American kestrel.

41. Chuck and Rick taking two shins that hit at the same time out of the net.

42. Frank, Troy and Kris holding the shins.

43. Troy and Kris releasing the shins.

44. A young Cooper's hawk.

45. Rick and Chuck taking the Cooper's hawk out of the net.

46. Troy holding the Cooper's hawk while Chuck is banding a shin. Nancy is looking for more hawks.

47. The Minnesota Zoo's environmental educators group holding hawks and falcons. Left to right, group leader Gina, Rea, Sharon, Frank, Judy, Josh, Alison and Kim.

48. Chuck showing the group a male American kestrel.

49. Kim releasing the Cooper's hawk.

50. Sharon releasing the American kestrel.

51. Josh releasing the Merlin.

52. Alison releasing a shin.

53. Judy releasing a shin.

54. Rea releasing a shin.

55. An adult female Sharp-shinned hawk.

56. Gina releasing the adult Sharp-shinned hawk.

57. The moon as seen through the clear night sky at Hawk Harbor.

58. An early Monday morning female American kestrel.

59. Liz and Larry holding a shin and the female kestrel.

60. Liz and Larry doing a double release.

61. A Merlin in the tree above the blind.

62. Frank banding a young female Merlin.

63. A young female Merlin.

64. Adult female Sharp-shinned hawk doing the "Are you looking at me?" pose.

65. Katie holding the shin.

66. Larry, Liz and Katie holding two Sharp-shinned hawks and a Merlin.

67. Liz holding the Merlin.

68. Liz releasing the Merlin.

69. A young Red-tailed hawk.

70. Frank banding the young Red-tailed hawk.

71. A young Red-tailed hawk.

72. Larry and Liz releasing the red-tail.

73. Larry, Liz, Katie and Marc holding a shin.

74. Katie holding a young female Sharp-shinned hawk.

75. Liz, Katie and Marc holding a shin.

76. Marc, Larry, Liz and Katie releasing the shin.

77. Sandhill crane out in the field.

78. Frank, Marc, Katie, Liz and Larry at Emily's Lighthouse restaurant. Katie and Liz having their first hot meatloaf sandwich, mine is my 74th!

79. A beautiful Tuesday morning sunrise over the trapping field.

80. A young male Sharp-shinned hawk.

81. An adult female Sharp-shinned hawk.

82. Comparing a young male to an adult female Sharp-shinned hawk.

83. Liz and Larry holding the shins.

84. Larry and Liz doing a double shin release.

85. A young female shin.

86. Marc releasing the shin.

87. A Blue Jay found his way into the net.

88. Randy holding a young Sharp-shinned hawk.

89. Randy releasing the shin.

90. A Merlin.

91. Liz holding the Merlin.

92. Liz releasing the Merlin.

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