Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A note on the Ferruginous ...

Not to beat a dead horse but I realized that some folks might be wondering why all the excitement about the Ferruginous Hawk. Though we count/monitor raptors every fall at Lucky Peak (since 1994) and we know that Ferruginous Hawks breed within 20 miles or less (out in the desert), we see them very infrequently during our migration counts - to the tune of between 0 - 7 individuals seen in a given year. Thus, we see fewer Ferruginous Hawks than we do Broad-winged Hawks (average of over 17 per year)!

Also, though not federally listed, there is concern in many areas of the species range due to conversion of native grasslands to agriculture, development, etc. (for more info, check out: http://www.ferruginoushawk.org/). Thus, in addition to being one of the most beautiful birds of prey, it's also one of those most threatened by humans and can be considered an indicator species - hinting at the condition of its habitat. As Deniz mentioned in the first post, I noticed that the muscle condition of this bird was quite poor - indicating that it has not been eating enough. Though we know that something on the order of 50% or more of immature birds die before reaching the age of 1, it was a little more real to see a bird that may be below the 50th percentile - so to speak (though we sent it on its way again with wishes of success ...).

Lastly, as you can see by checking out the satellite tracking links on the http://www.ferruginoushawk.org/ website, this species seems to be more of a nomad than many of our other migratory raptors ... which may be why we see so few from our site that are migrating in a traditional N-S direction during autumn.

Anyway, just some FYI about a cool bird!

Jay

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Mission: to contribute to the conservation of western migratory landbirds through cooperative research and public education