Notice from The North American Bird Banding Program

Received this notice today. Thought it worthy of re-publishing it here.

“Bird banding is important for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. About 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904. About 4 million bands have been recovered and reported.

Data from banded birds are used in monitoring populations, setting hunting regulations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, and addressing such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations. Results from banding studies support national and international bird conservation programs such as Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Wetlands for the Americas.

The North American Bird Banding Program is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources; other federal, state and provincial conservation agencies; universities; amateur ornithologists; bird observatories; nature centers; nongovernmental organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the National Audubon Society; environmental consulting firms and other private sector businesses. However, the most important partner in this cooperative venture is you, the person who voluntarily reported a recovered band. Thank you for your help.

U.S. Geological Survey
Canadian Wildlife Service

Please Report Bands at
http://www.reportband.gov
or
call 1-800-327-BAND”

Follow-up on Golden Eagle Band

The area near our ranch has a large concentration of eagles, both golden and bald. These eagles have been closely monitored for many years.

The individual who captured golden eagle 629-41062 was Daniel Driscoll. When contacted by my friend Joe DiDonato (Joe has a long history of working with golden eagles), Driscoll had the following comment.

“We captured 629-41062 as a breeding female at the Lower Indian Creek breeding area on 5-30-1996. Since she was at least 4 years old (adult) when captured, the eagle would be at least 25 years old this year.”

The Lower Indian Creek breeding area is located on the south side of San Antonio Reservoir in Alameda County. It is approximately a mile from the location where the carcass of a banded golden eagle was found yesterday. (See previous post)

Golden Eagle Band #629-41062

Over the years I’ve collected the bands of waterfowl, mostly mallards, but also a greater Canada goose, greater snow goose, one sprig and a greater white-front goose.

Once upon a time I actually participated in banding raptors at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory as a beginner at the Marin headlands. And, the band of a sharp-shinned hawk (one of the few I personally banded), was recovered and reported. It was surprising to read the report in the Raptor Observatory newsletter.

Today, Rob and I recovered a band from a non-waterfowl bird. It was the band of a golden eagle, probably one the eagles we have often observed and maybe even photographed.

The carcass of the bird was found along side the road to our ranch. It was deteriorated and rotten, but there was a band on its leg – a band that led to a great deal of interesting information about the bird.

The band report said that the bird was banded in 1996 near the Arroyo Sanitorium (about four miles south of Livermore California) and that it was hatched in 1993 or earlier. It was female. Now, over 20 years later, and at the age of 24 years or greater, the bird is dead, a testimony to the ability of eagles to survive in our modern world full of obstacles and danger.

After 20+ years, the dead bird was found only about five miles from where it was banded. Based upon a quick internet search, it appears that this bird lived to be quite old for a wild North American golden eagle.

bird-band-3-img_2849

The 20-year-old band was scratched and scared. The diameter of the band is approximately equal to the diameter of a quarter.

White-Front Goose Band #2197-76506

The band was on the right leg of the third bird from the left in the photo above. I reported it to http://www.reportband.gov this morning.

The information provided: This is a greater white-front goose banded on 7/24/2016 near Chevak Alaska in the Wade Hampton census area. It was too young to fly at the time of the banding. The bird is male.

You can see that the third bird from the left’s breast is cream-colored while the other three are speckled.There were the beginnings of specs on the young bird. The other three birds are mature adult coloration.

Chevak is located on the coast at the far western tip of Alaska. 90% of the population is native American. Native Americans have had a large impact upon the recovery of white-front geese. When I first hunting these geese over 25 years ago, their population was so low that the limit was set at one bird.

About that time, employees of the California Department of Fish and Game asked me to join a group of hunters that would accompany visiting native Americans from Alaska on a California refuge waterfowl hunt. The gentleman who joined me could only observe.

We hunted from a blind at Sacramento Wildlife Refuge. I do not recall his name, but we had a good day together. I learned from him that historically the native Americans hunted goose eggs for food. One of the reasons for the population decline of white-front geese was over-harvesting of the eggs.

The purpose of the trip was to provide more information about the life cycle of the white-front geese to these Alaskans and to provide an incentive for conservation of the species. One of the results of that conservation effort was to limit the number of goose eggs that the native Americans would harvest.

Over the years since that trip, white-front goose numbers have risen tremendously. So much so that the limit on these geese in California is now quite liberal.

The Most Beautiful Bird

On a trip to South Africa nearly ten years ago, Linda and I spent two nights at Sun City. On the second day of our stay, I played a round of golf at the Gary Player golf course.

As I stood beside the club house, a lilac breasted roller bird landed in a tree nearby. Grabbing my camera, I moved beneath the tree on which it was perched and attempted to photograph it.

Amazingly the bird flew down from the tree and landed on the lawn about five feet from me. There it stood just long enough for to take two photos.

Here is the result.

betsyafrica-013

Lilac breasted roller bird at Gary Player golf course in Sun City, South Africa.

This photo was posted on my blog for some time, but I took it down and don’t remember why.

Now it’s back.

Ferruginous Hawk

For a while I’ve been seeing a ferruginous hawk along ranch road and I’ve been hoping to take a good photograph of the hawk. A few days ago I took some photographs of a ferruginous hawk on my way to the ranch. I’m not sure if it was the same hawk, but it probably was.

The ferruginous hawks belong to the broad wing family and are buteosĀ  as are the red-tailed hawks and red-shouldered hawks. They hunt from the air or from perches and they glide in the thermals along with the eagles and vultures.

These photographs are not great, but they will clearly show the marking of a light morph ferruginous hawk.

For comparison, here are a couple red-tailed hawk photos.

In California habitats red-tailed hawks are usually the most common large raptor.

Eagle Fight

On my way home from the ranch today, I came upon two eagles that I believe I’ve seen before. The first time I saw them was about a month ago and they seemed to be fighting over food.

Today I came around a corner in nearly the same spot and the two eagles were on the ground next to each other about 150 yards off the road. One of them, a bald eagle, took off, but the second eagle stayed on the ground.

Sensing that I may get a photo opportunity, I rolled down my window and grabbed my camera, which was ready for action. And, it was a good thing.

The bald eagle flew over my truck and I was happy to get a couple photos of the bird in flight.

DSC_0040[1] bald eagle soaring

The golden eagle remained on the ground for a moment and then took off with the bald eagle in pursuit.

DSC_0040[1] golden eagle

It appeared that the golden eagle was carrying prey.

DSC_0047[1] golden eagle fleeing with prey

A couple ravens joined in the melee.

DSC_0058[1] eagles and ravens

Then the bald eagle went on the attach.

DSC_0059[1] eagles engage

DSC_0060[1] eagles fight over squirrel

They fought over a ground squirrel untilĀ  it fell towards the ground.

DSC_0061[1] ground squirrel falls

The fight continued as the birds plummeted downward.

DSC_0062[1] eagles continue to fall

Eventually the golden eagle recovered it’s food. But it may have been injured.

DSC_0063[1] golden recovers squirrel

The bald eagle was left to watch.

DSC_0069[1] bald eagle watches

Not sure what happened next as I had to get home for my own dinner.