Hawk Trapping

Fall is the most wonderful time of the year. I spent a good portion of the weekend banding hawks. I arrived Saturday night after work and checked into the Inn on the Gitch Gumee in Duluth. The light from the moon danced on Lake Superior and overhead you could hear peeps of migrating songbirds.

Sunday was terrific for banding, our little station netted 40 hawks including sharp-shinned, Cooper's and merlins. It was an action-packed day as sharp-shins were everywhere in the sky and sometimes we would focus on one hawk and not realize until too late that another hawk had spied the bait and landed in the net. One of the highlights was a first year peregrine falcon that sped into the field and made about eight passes in front of the blind trying to get the bait pigeon. The falcon was too smart for the nets and evetually left to find food elsewhere.

One of the things I love most about hawk trapping is getting to watch the hunting techniques of various raptors. You spot these hawks in the sky miles off in the distance and watch as they catch sight of the bait pigeon and eventually hone in and come for the kill. You see the moment when the hawk sets its wings and goes from being a speck to life size and in your hand.

Here is a photo of an adult male Cooper's hawk that we banded.