My friend Frank Taylor opened his hawk banding station this weekend. I couldn't go because of the state fair and I'm so bummed that I missed it. I just got his report and found this in the notes--for this bit to make sense, you need to know that there's a bait pigeon on a harness and there is a net in front of the pigeon and a net in back of the pigeon. There's about 10 feet of space between the nets.
Monday was the most exciting of all! We got started at 6:30 am. There was no wind at all. It was supposed to start up and shift around to the southeast by noon with a chance of showers. I figured we would not see much and be out of there by noon. Around 7:20 while we were watching some shins, kestrels and merlins chase each other around the field, a thing that looked like a small airplane came floating in from the farm. It was an immature male bald eagle! It kept coming and coming and we figured it would just pitch up and sit in the tree above us like all the rest have done. This one pitched up but then came right down in the middle of the nets! Rick was in shock but ran out and scared it into the back of the front net. That is only the third eagle we have ever caught up at the blind in 38 years!
Here's a photo Frank took of Rick holding the eagle after they banded it. Frank's blind isn't aimed at attracting eagles but they are opportunists and will for anything. For those worried, the eagle didn't get the pigeon (I think Frank has only lost two pigeons to hawks in all his years banding--that's pretty good).
I'm not sure how much I can go banding, I need to save money for Cape May. Guess I'll be sleeping in the car when I go up.