I just got a new computer for work. It is the first update I have had in many years, so I’m working my way through my files to make sure I remove any personal stuff before I surrender it to the Smithsonian. Mostly I’m just deleting notes for blog posts that I never finished (and don’t intend to). Then I found this great video that I almost forgot about.
Matt and I went hiking last fall. He suggested a trail that I hadn’t done in a small mountain range that is just over the Nevada border. He told me that Hawkwatch International, an organization dedicated to preserving birds (raptors in particular), had a camp set up at the top of the ridge. They have a number of biologists and students that stay up there through the migration season to count the birds that they see and to band the ones that they can catch in their traps (designed to be as harmless to the birds as possible).
What he didn’t tell me was that there was a chance that I would get to release a bird back into the wild after it was banded. He had been before and he saw that they let visitors to the camp come and help count birds (which I tried to do, but I’m not very good at identifying a bird from more than 100 yards away, so I wasn’t very useful) and he got to release a raptor on his first visit. He probably didn’t want to tell me so that I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Which would have happened. And they only caught one bird while we were in camp, so it almost didn’t happen. But it did! And the surprise of it just made it that more exciting.
That might not sound romantic to most folk, but to me, being led up a mountain only to learn that I would be holding and releasing a bird of prey back into the wild? It just doesn’t get any more swoon-worthy than that.
This little guy is a sharp-shinned hawk. Isn’t he gorgeous? He doesn’t seem too excited about his new jewelry, unfortunately. In these photos the biologist is showing me how to hold him without hurting him. Then in the video I get to send him back on his migratory path.