Weekend Banding Extravaganza Part 1

Non Birding Bill went away to New York for the weekend and I found myself a bachelorette for a few days. I had some plans for songbird banding at Mr. Neil's on Sunday, but called my buddy Amber and asked if she wanted to go up for the day on Saturday to Frank's to band hawks and then come back on Sunday to band songbirds. She was game and I was glad for the good company. I was a touch worried that I had jinxed our banding weekend. I dropped NBB off at the airport at 4am on Friday, came home and fell asleep, missing Friday banding at Carpenter. I figured I would get in enough practice over the weekend. I worried with the few birds on Saturday that Sunday would be a bummer. I was wrong.

We got in a couple of sharp-shinned hawks. It's still a bit early in the season, but a slow day in a hawk blind is better than a great day in the office. We didn't see huge amounts of hawks flying the skies but that left time for jokes and witty witty repartee--not unlike the Algonquin Round Table, only substitute painful bird puns for witty repartee and waxy chocolate donuts, cheetos, and gas station coffee for martinis.

We got in a cute little female kestrel. It's always surprising when a kestrel comes into the nets--they're about the same size as the bait pigeon and it's surprising that they think prey that size is a good idea. She was a passage (hatched this year) bird, so perhaps she's still trying to figure out what is sensible prey.

After she was banded and released she landed on a spruce. A second female kestrel (on the left) landed on a spruce near her. I wonder if these two were in the same nest this past summer? The bird we released started preening her. Amber's boyfriend says that the birds are muttering, "Damn greasy primates!" after having been handled and banded. The second kestrel soon followed suit, even though she had not been banded. She was cute, she kept rubbing the top of her head on the spruce top--a great way to scratch those itchy feather shafts.

One of the sharp-shinned hawks that flew in had just hunted successfully. Te toes were covered with blood and had a couple of feathers still stuck to them. The feathers were a bit olive. Amber and I were trying to suss out what the prey could have been--warbler, sparrow? We think we figured it out during the next day's songbird banding.

We stayed until about 4pm, only three birds had been banded up to that point--2 sharp-shinned hawks and a kestrel. I'll be back up later this season--hopefully with photos of goshawks.