Friday, July 27, 2012

Babies and Releases

I know it's been awhile since I've written--the heat has me lazy, and the afternoon storms are distracting--but some pretty exciting stuff has been happening recently and it's well past time to give you all an update!  First of all, check out this progression:
The Tiniest Kestrel is all grown up (except for the head fluff)
Can you believe how quickly they grow up?  The little Kestrel is now flying like a champ and is due to start live prey testing this week.

Next in line, the baby Cooper's Hawk.  He's not quite as fluffy as he was a week ago, and would you look at the size of those feet?  Cooper's Hawks are accipiters, a certain group of Hawks designed to hunt and kill birds on the wing.  The super-long toes help them reach out and grab their prey in flight.

Baby Cooper's Hawk
The Humans have also been admitting lots of baby Swainson's Hawks, most right on the cusp of fledging (learning to fly).  It is expected that more and more of these kids will be coming in over the next few weeks, looking for a safe place to finish their flight and prey training.  By "safe place" I mean not in the middle of a road or parking lot, which is where a lot of them are found.  Orphaned Swainson's Hawks who come in this time of year simply need to grow up and get kicked out.  However, if a broken Swainson's Hawk comes in towards the end of the summer and doesn't heal in time for the fall migration, the bird will be overwintered in our large flight cages.  We currently have three of last year's birds in there, mostly waiting for better feathers to grow in.  They include the Swainson's Hawk that had all his feathers burned off last year.  He's growing in new feathers like a champ, but he still has a ways to go.

Baby Swainson's Hawk 
An interesting Swainson's Hawk story is unfolding in cage R-14 right now:  there was an adult Swainson's Hawk, probably male, brought in a couple weeks ago with bodily trauma but no broken bones or wounds (likely hit by car).  He was moved out to a small flight cage, R-14, pretty quickly.  Then a grounded immature Swainson's Hawk was found in a parking lot just six blocks away from where the adult male was found.  The Humans put the kid in the cage with the dad, and wouldn't you know it, the kid rushed up to dad and started food begging instantly!  And when the Humans go in to catch the kid, dad gets really defensive and protective over him.  Usually, "foster" raptors act more as role models than parents, so the overt parenting behavior in this dad probably means the two are related.   Looks like a family was reunited! 
Probable Swainson's Hawk father-child reunion 
In other news, lots of birds are being released these days.  Instead of twenty-something Kestrels in the cages, there are only about ten!  Kids are growing up left and right.  And another very exciting release just happened: the beautiful adult Mississippi Kite that was admitted with a broken wing was released in good habitat in Sterling!  The RMRP only sees a handful of Mississippi Kites in a year, if any, and they're usually immatures that fell out of a nest.  The fact that the RMRP got an adult Kite, and were able to successfully heal and release the bird has everyone feeling warm and fuzzy--except for me.  The only time I feel that way is when I have something warm and fuzzy in my talons. 
Mississippi Kite progression and release
And, last but not least, the Peregrine Falcon that came in with a wing injury is flying circles around her cage, building up stamina and  hopefully looking forward to a release soon!
Peregrine Falcon
That's it for now.  I'll honestly try to stop being such a perch-potato and start writing more blog posts!  And remember, I'm always willing to answer questions and take on requests, so email me at whenever you want to, or leave a comment below!


  1. Hi TOD,

    This is a question about the web site: would it be possible to have a section on the web dedicated to RMRP's educational ambassadors? I'd love to see photos and info. about them. (Plus a memorial section for those that have gone would be really nice, too.) This is a selfish request from Sue M. who is far away, but wants to check up on her favorite birds.

  2. That sounds like a perfectly great idea. I'll work on having a page on the top bar for that. In the meantime, have you liked our Facebook page, Rocky Mountain Raptor Program? The Humans have been posting profiles of each of the education birds as their anniversaries roll around, so that's a good way to check up on them in the meantime. Thanks for the suggestion!