Sharp-shinned Hawk

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.

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Flickers are F^ckers

Matt and Ethan were out of town last week. As I’ve mentioned, I work from home, so when I’m alone I’m truly on my own. I made do by carrying my camera with me on my walks and spending a little extra attention on my wild neighbors. I got a cute shot of one of the Northern (Red-shafted) Flickers in my area. I hear them a lot but it hasn’t been easy to spot them. Last week, I figured out why. They have built a nest inside one of the sycamore trees. I was walking past and I could hear pounding coming from inside the tree trunk. Here is the male peeking out of the sunroof to call to his mate.

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And here is his girlfriend looking down into the hole to tell him he’s doing it wrong (I assume). I kept hoping she would look back so I could get her face in the photo but no such luck for me.

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The next day, I was in my house, sitting on my couch, which is next to the fireplace. I was working on an essay for my writing class and deep in concentration. Suddenly, I was startled by a booming “BAM! BAM! BAM!” sound that came from the fireplace. I jumped to my feet with a theory and grabbed my camera before ducking out the front door to get a view of the roof without making any sudden movements.

There he was, the little dick. Sitting on the metal capped roof of my chimney.

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I felt like he was saying, “how do you like it when people stalk you at your home, huh? BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! How you like me NOW?”

Ug. Flickers. I was loving on them for a minute there, but now I’m just grateful I live in a brick house instead of a wood paneled one. It doesn’t hurt the chimney when he drills on it, after all.  And I have other rooms I can write in while he tries to punish me while giving himself a migraine.