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Gratuitous Goshawk

At first when I was looking at my schedule and budget for the fall, I was worried I just wouldn’t be able to get to my friend Frank Taylor’s hawk banding station–my favorite bird activity I do all year. I was very down that I would not get to see a northern goshawk (my favorite raptor and next tattoo) fly into the nets But thanks to help from my great friends, I managed two trips. And I got to see a first year northern goshawk fly in! Whoot!

Frank asked me to hold the young goshawk so he could get photos and I gave my camera to a wonderful woman I’ve been getting to know at the blind named Joan. We were working as swiftly as possible with the goshawk so we could send it on its way.

Why would we want this magnificent bird away so quickly? Because the moment it hits the nets to the very second it is released, it give a loud, piercing, melt-your-eardrums shriek over and over and over. All we’re doing is holding it, it’s not in any pain what so ever. Such a big bird, such a big whiner. Even the smaller cousins of this accipiter, the sharp-shinned hawk and the Cooper’s hawk take the banding process with stoicism. Frank wanted to try and get a photo of the goshawk with its mouth closed–not an easy feat.

I think this photo that Joan got about sums it up. Yes, here I am with my favorite raptor and you can see that I’m clearly thinking, “Are we done yet? Can we move on?” I bet you’re now curious, just how awful this sound is, aren’t you? Okay, here is about five seconds of ear-splitting goshawk (those you cannot view video should be grateful):

Annoying, huh? As if that weren’t bad enough…

The goshawk started attacking my coat. It was time to set this bird free and continue on its way.

I tossed the bird in the air and Joan got this great shot which actually looks like the bird is reaching out to attack me. Actually, what’s going on is that I tossed the goshawk out to the field, but being the type of hawk that hunts in the woods, the bird is turning around in mid air so it can fly into the safety of the trees behind me. Still, I love how it looks like I’m reaching out it and the goshawk looks like it is going to nail me.

More banding fun to come!


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