Monday, January 30, 2012

A Raptor-Centric Week

From the high of a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk on our snag last Tuesday, the day I returned from California, and then again today... to the low of a Red-tailed Hawk electrocuted on one of the utility poles along our driveway last Thursday, this has been a raptor-centric week. (Yes, I know raptor-centric is not a word, but it should be.)

I had never seen a Red-tail up close before. It is much more beautiful in hand than from a distance. The white chevron of feathers on the back are much more obvious and all the feathers seem to have both rich brown and some white in them. The reddish feathers of the tail are actually the least spectacular of all. I would have taken a photo but it was a bit too sad to see such a beautiful bird with one leg burned in half and the bottom bill burned off completely.

Apparently the poor bird landed on the pole and touched the wire with its bill (or vice versa), grounding itself and getting fried. It reeked of burned feathers. I called PGE and asked to have some sort of hawk-protection device put on the pole. They took the information but made no promises. With a tip from a birder friend, I emailed the Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement division but have not heard back yet from them either. (Post script: today, Tuesday, a very nice woman from PGE arrived at my door to find out which pole fried the hawk, examine them all, and order guards for any that are problems. She decided to order guards for the hawk-fry pole plus the transformer pole at the house end of the driveway and also the transformer pole at the road end of the driveway. Whoopee!)

The hawk was almost certainly one of the pair that live and nest and raise young here every year. Another Red-tail was on the snag yesterday morning, no doubt the mate. I hope it finds a new partner.

This morning Johnny called my attention to a hawk on the snag again. That one turned out to be the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk that we first saw in September and then again last Tuesday. It's pretty exciting to know it is hanging around, since Red-shouldered Hawks are California birds just beginning to set up housekeeping in Oregon.

On Friday Johnny and I drove the North Santiam raptor route that I used to do with my dad. From the cemetery where Mom and Dad are buried, next to the Timberknoll Ranch that they owned, we spotted a pair of Bald Eagles. I wished Dad was still alive to see them. They would have been visible from his dining room window and deck. Mom and Dad did occasionally see eagles hunting along the North Santiam river that runs through Timberknoll, but only rarely. Eagles are making a comeback now and are seen much more often. Although you can't see it unless you zoom the photo way up, I think one of the eagles is on the very top of the fir farthest left. Although taken from the cemetery southeast of Mom and Dad's house, this is pretty much the view they had out their east windows. Next photo shows one of the eagles, blurry at that distance.

People and birds come and go, but the mountains remain. I find that comforting somehow.

Today, as I wandered my way via Baskett Slough from errands in Sheridan to the feed store in Dallas, I saw my first Osprey of the season. I think I've read on OBOL (Oregon Birders On Line) that an osprey has been seen there earlier but this is the first time I've seen it. It was perched on the very high power lines that cross Livermore Road... and was a long way off for a decent photo.

On my way home, I stopped at Shenk Wetlands to check for White-tailed Kites and found one hunting in its usual place. As I looked at it through my binoculars, a Northern Harrier flew past my field of vision. Shortly after, an American Kestrel did the same thing.

It has been a Raptor-centric week for sure.

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