[Tweeters] Wing tagged Red-tailed Hawks

Bud Anderson falconresearch at gmail.com
Sat Nov 28 14:00:36 PST 2015

Thanks for both the kind referral and the sightings of wing-tagged hawks.

Here is a quick update on Sea-tac Raptor Management Program.

We have now wing-tagged 250 red-tailed Hawks, both adults (yellow tags) and
juveniles ( blue tags) at the airport.

All have been transported and released 75 miles north, up here
near Bow, in Skagit County. The release site is adjacent to the Samish
Flats, one of the best wintering raptor areas in our state.

It is about as perfect a place to release them as I can think of. Lots of
food, excellent hunting habitat and no jets.

Of course our goal is to move them away from the known hazards of jet
aircraft and runways and take them to a "better restaurant" where they will
hopefully do better and be much safer.

The total number of all species of Sea-tac relocated raptors, including
kestrels, merlins, peregrines, rough-legs, a bald eagle, sharpies, coopers,
ospreys, barn owls, great horned owls, barred owls, short-eared owls and a
single Swainson's Hawk is now well over 700 birds.

Incidentally, a pair of Short-ears nested on the ground between two of our
runways last summer.

Completely and totally unexpected.

What we are finding is that very few of the translocated tagged red-tails,
especially the juveniles, ever return to the airport, which is exactly what
we were hoping for when we first started the program 15 years ago.

In fact, several of the relocated red-tails have remained here on the
Skagit Flats and later nested.

Really like seeing that.

One unexpected and interesting result to me so far are that all of the
subsequent tagged red-tail reports are from within a relatively small
geographic area within the Pacific flyway. The range limits so far are
Naniamo and Vancouver in the north and throughout Oregon to the south. Only
a couple have made it to California but none have been reported from east
of the Cascades or even Alaska.

I had expected them to disperse over a much wider geographic area. Maybe
they do and are just not being seen/reported but that is what we have so

Anyway, the Sea-tac program is working so well that our colleagues at the
Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR, airports are now also tagging their
translocated hawks.

The YVR (Vancouver) red-tails (and rough-legs) carry a single numbered
WHITE tag and the PDX (Portland) red-tails have an ORANGE numbered tag on
both wings.

These three airports have recently formed the Western Airports Raptor
Management group and we meet each year to compare our results and learn
from each other. The Salt Lake City Airport also joined us last February so
the group is expanding.

We have come a long way from the lethal removal of hawks from airports.

So if you happen to see any of these tagged birds, please note the usual,
i.e. date, location, species, age and especially the tag color, the number
on the tag and which wing(s) carries the tag.

You can always send me the information and I will pass it along.

All of these data are of great value to the different airport raptor
management people (incidentally, they are all birders like you), and we
cannot thank you enough for taking the time and effort to pass along your

So thanks everyone,

Bud Anderson
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