Date: 11/2/20 9:07 am From: Ty Smedes <ty.smedes...> Subject: [ia-bird] Fall Raptor Trapping at Hitchcock Nature Center
I thought list subscribers might enjoy the attached fast-moving action sequence of low-res images I’ve attached - showing the trapping of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk this fall.
As a registered volunteer at Pottawattamie County’s Hitchcock Nature Center, I spend a few days each fall season, assisting Jerry Toll with diurnal raptor trapping. I help with opening nets for the day, removing birds, and closing the nets, as well as resetting them following a capture. Having used photos to illustrate several feature articles for Iowa Outdoors Magazine, I also contribute many images to Jerry and the Nature Center - for their use in educating the public. Each year is exciting – never knowing what might come into the nets on a given day.
The attached photos: Responding to the lure bird – a Redtail stoops (diving) from high above - tucking his wings above his back and rocketing downward. Closing the distance quickly, he brakes just a few feet from his quarry - spreading his wings and fanning his tail downward. As he reaches for his victim, the lure bird is pulled just out of reach, the net is tripped, and he’s caught. Following removal from the net, he is taken to the blind, where his general condition is assessed and logged, along with weight and several measurements. Lastly, a leg band is attached, and he’s allowed to continue his adventurous journey- now logged as part of Iowa’s fall raptor migration!
Listed as one of the top 25 Hawk Watches in the country, a formal Raptor Migration Count has been conducted at Hitchcock for nearly 30 years! The Nature Center also features an observation tower where the public is encouraged to view migrating raptors – often passing at eye-level.
Hats off to Jerry – for 12 years of collecting raptor trapping data, used for scientific trend analysis, and to Pottawattamie County for their support of the raptor trapping and hawk watch efforts! It’s all about the science – and science matters!
Ty Smedes Nature Photography
"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it" - Thomas Jefferson