Date: 2/12/18 12:31 pm From: Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes <cth4...> Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Seneca County Gyrfalcon
With permission, I thought I would share an offline conversation I had with falconer Tim Gallagher a few weeks ago (below). The discussion started because I questioned why eBird was blocking eBird RBA alerts of Gyrfalcon sightings while at the same time possibly instilling fear in people wanting to share sightings of this species to a broader audience due to the “sensitive” nature for this species.
Apparently, licensed falconers (and only licensed falconers) may attempt to trap and may only keep young wild Gyrfalcons as falconry birds during a very narrow window during the fall and into the first 42 days of winter. As this bird is not a young bird, and as it is now outside the legal window of time to attempt to trap, there should be no fear in reporting it. Further, the eBird RBA alert ban (in my option) should be lifted or modified to allow greater visibility of Gyrfalcon sightings outside of the legal trapping window.
If anything, far more sensitive species, such as Snowy Owls, should have more restrictive eBird RBA alert reporting; perhaps in proximity to more populated areas. As we have seen in areas near major population centers, Snowy Owls are often placed under far more stress by being repeatedly flushed by persons trying to get closer to the owls.
It does not make sense to hide sightings of a species as awesome as a Gyrfalcon from the general birdwatching public, if there is no concern or threat of legal of capture. If anything, this could be a great educational opportunity for beginning and non-birders alike.
I’m open to being convinced otherwise.
Here’s an excerpt from Tim:
From: Tim Gallagher <twg3...><mailto:<twg3...>> Subject: Re: Falconry Laws?
Date: January 20, 2018 at 5:14:17 AM GMT+13
To: "Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes" <cth4...><mailto:<cth4...>>
They can only be captured during the period from September 1 to January 31 of their first year, so it's a very limited window. There are only 12 days remaining to legally trap a hatch-year 2017 raptor. Any birds from earlier hatch years are already illegal to take into captivity.
I should add that falconers suggested these rules to the federal government—and also rules requiring would-be falconers to serve an apprenticeship of at least two years under an experienced falconer. The U.S. has the most stringent falconry regulations in the world, and they were designed by falconers. The well-being of raptor populations is our foremost concern.
Here are the pertinent section of the falconry rules relating to trapping (173.3 -- Acquisition of Raptors):
(h) First year passage birds may only be captured from September 1st through January 31st inclusive.
(i) A falconer who captures a raptor in adult plumage must immediately release that raptor at the site of capture.
The Seneca County Gyfalcon in discussion is an adult "slate-gray" colored Gyrfalcon. Although the bird in question has white on the underside, it is not a "white" Gyrfalcon which would be completely white (similar to the plumage of a Snowy Owl). This bird is likely a annual returning wintering bird to the Seneca County quarry. You can see a photo I took of it on my Flicker page at:
Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes
Field Applications Engineer
Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850
W: 607-254-2418<tel:607-254-2418> M: 607-351-5740<tel:607-351-5740> F: 607-254-1132<tel:607-254-1132>