Derek and I spent 4 hours at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory today learning how to identify 14 different raptors so we can help count them as they migrate through our area. We learned so much about hawks today that our heads are swimming as we try to keep them all straight! We didn't get to see any rehab birds, as I was hoping we would, but we did get to see 4 mounted raptors and compare them side by side. There was an American Kestrel, a Cooper's hawk, a Sharp-Shinned hawk and a Red-Tailed hawk and it really helped to look at them close up. Now we know for sure that our beloved "Cooper" is indeed a Cooper's hawk!
The migratory count begins March 1 and ends May 9. I plan to volunteer one day each of my weeks off and try to help out with data collection. I need to work with an experienced birder and practice IDing raptors before going it alone. I've only recently begun a more serious approach to birding so I have a lot to learn.
I told one of the volunteers there that they are welcome to come out and watch the birds out here on the twelve acres. She told me she would call me to arrange a time when they can bring the kids group out to walk around and birdwatch.
What's my favorite raptor? Well, Screech Owls of course! But today was all about hawks and out of all the hawks the Red-Tailed is my favorite. I've become fond of seeing our mated pair, Bonnie and Clyde, taking their daily wing-stretch over the field during our supper time. I can almost set my watch to them they are so regular.
Here's some falcon action. Ya gotta admire the speed and guts of the Peregrines!