Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Winter Bird Banding- Part Three

Impressive talons

Nancy lives a short distance from the Snow Bunting banding field. Her husband is also a bird bander and while she was busy in the van, her son called to say they had captured a Rough-legged Hawk. Rick encouraged us to leave the Buntings to him and we raced over to see the big bird.

Rough-legged Hawks are yet another species which breed in the Arctic Tundra and are found here only in the winter months. I have seen many from a distance and find them to be a striking, easy to identify raptor, especially in flight.

The bird was very calm and allowed Mike, who is an experienced handler,  to inspect it closely as he measured the wings and determined its age and sex. (male, greater than 2 years old).

After a final round of photographs, the hawk was released and soared to a nearby tree where it rearranged its feathers before it took off again. It was certainly an unexpected bonus for the day!

I posted this video on YouTube with some of the stills and a movie clip I shot at the Snow Bunting field. The Rough-legged Hawk is not included in this less-than-two-minute presentation. I wish I could have anticipated and filmed the Merlin attacks but some things just have to be seen and remembered.


  1. That's some set of talons on that hawk! I'm glad he knows how to handle this bird, as I think that guy could be quite fierce up close! Great shots too...must have been quite an adventure!

  2. It must take both skill and courage to handle a hawk. Your friend obviously knows what he's doing. Great photos of a magnificent raptor.

  3. That was fantastic! I love the video. The buntings sure are a quick bird. I love the pictures of the buntings on the tree branches and the "evil eye" Merlin. I noticed many "ungloved" hands in this very cold weather. Hats off to Steve, Nancy and yourself for banding our birds and thanks for sharing!!

  4. oops...that is Mike, not Steve...sorry.

  5. The beauty of nature, he's a magnificent fellow!

  6. OMG, that is a magnificent hawk, love the markings. With those big talons I'm surprised he isn't wearing gloves. Yet the bird does look calm. Amazing photos. What a treat!

  7. WOW! That's amazing Ruth! He's spectacular, and I loved that last photo before release. How neat that you got to see this majestic hunter up close like that.

    Enjoyed the video and watching those hungry buntings walk right in to the trap for banding. Easy breezy!

  8. Ruth,
    I've been scrolling down because I've missed so much.

    You have a wonderful eye.

    The evergreen with sun and shadows picture - is so lovely.

    Your video and the experiences you're capturing this winter make me long for more out-of-dooring.

    Perhaps I missed it . .
    What temperatures are you having on those outings?

    Brrrrrr . . .

  9. Very impressive pictures, presentation and write-up. Please keep this up. Good reading.

  10. That's a pretty brave guy although the bird did seem quite unruffled by it all. Eagles next?

  11. What a beauty! What a privilege to see it up so close!


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