Home Again

I'm home from another weekend of hawk trapping. For the first time I got caught in nasty traffic on 35 south from Duluth. At one point it took Amber and I an hour to go ten miles. They had part of the highway down to one lane to work on a bridge.

There are always heroic tales at a hawk banding station. Some hawks sneak up into your nets out of nowhere, some hawks start as pepper specks in the distance and gradually appear before your eyes and into the nets, and some birds seem like they are sure things as they fly straight to the net and veer off away at the last second. Hands down, my favorite birds was an adult male goshawk that came into the nets out of nowhere. Amber and I were behind the blind taking photos of a recently banded red-tailed hawk when Rick told us to be quiet as he drew in a hawk in the distance. He yanked the bait pigeon, and before any of us could breathe the goshawk was in the net. Rick had been targeting a different hawk all together when this guy dove in. We've never gotten one of these in the net when I have been there and I have always wanted to see one up close, they are one of the most beautiful hawks on the planet:

Look at those blood red eyes, they just say "must kill".

We also got in three juvenile goshawks. Goshawks don't get their gray adult plumage until they are two years old. The young are brown and white with yellow eyes instead of red:

Note how the mouth is wide open? These birds are screamers. Literature on the goshawk will say that they are usually silent, this is true unless you are holding one in your hand. In that case they will give a piercing scream that makes banding tricky and the desire to take numerous photos wane.

One very photogenic and compliant species is the red-tailed hawk. This bird will always keep it's mouth open during the banding process but makes no noise.

I tried to do an arty shot with this red-tailed hawk to give the impression of what prey must feel like before it's captured and eaten.