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Red-tailed hawk photo captures power on the wing

WILDLIFE WATCHING — North America's most common hawk — the red-tailed hawk — is a picture of fierce aerial heartburn if you're a rodent, snake, bird, hare or other creature on its menu. 

Outdoor photographer J. Foster Fanning of Curlew made this outstanding and powerful image of redtail landing in a ponderosa pine recently at Curlew Lake State Park.

Live raptors featured in Audubon program Tuesday

WILDLIFE – Raptor expert Kate Davis of Montana-based Raptors of the Rockies, will present a free program on hawks and owls at the Coeur d’Alene Audubon meeting, 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 8, at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene.

Davis says she’ll be bringing a few of the 15 species of orphaned or injured raptors that serve as the educational team at her raptor ranch in the Bitterroot Valley.

Dead hawk owl to live on in WSU collection

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The northern hawk owl that thrilled hundreds of birders as it ranged south to hang out around Moscow this winter was killed in a vehicle collision Thursday but will live on as an exhibit at Washington State University.  

Judging from the emails, the first bird of its species known to have visited the Palouse made a personal impact on people who enjoyed its willingness to be observed and photographed for six weeks around town.

Here's the report from Terry Gray, the Moscow birder who monitored the hawk owl and made daily reports on its whereabouts to visiting birders. Gray ultimately took the mortally injured bird to university veterinarians who tried to save it.

 The Northern Hawk Owl turned out to be a male.  The bird is now at the
Washington State University Charles R. Conner Museum and will join two more
Northern Hawk Owls in their collection.
I want to thank everyone for you kind thoughts and words.  I really
appreciate them and feel honored to have kept all in the loop on what was
happening with our feathered friend.   I had a tough experience today when a
couple knocked on my door from New Mexico asking for directions to see the
owl and I had to tell them that they were a day late!

Northern hawk owl visiting Moscow reported dead

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Sad news:  the northern hawk owl that's been attracting birders from far and wide to the Moscow, Idaho, area has been reported dead.

The rare visitor from the arctic has been hunting and hanging out in the area since it was spotted Dec. 3 near a Moscow shopping mall by raptor expert Erik Stauber, a retired wildlife veterinary professor from Washington State University.

Moscow birder Terry Gray, who's been watching and photographing the bird almost daily just reported the news.

The hawk owl, a bird of boreal forests in Alaska and Canada, became a sensation because of its willingness to stay in the same area and be photographed by many, many birders after Gray posted photos and began giving daily reports on where the bird could be seen.

Northern hawk owls have been recorded and documented farther south in Idaho (Hailey and in eastern Idaho)  and several had been recorded for Moscow and Pullman around 20 years ago, says birder Charles Swift.

But the bird is a rare or maybe once-in-a-lifetime bird for many enthusiasts in this region.

Birders had expressed concern about the bird's lack of fear for powerlines and vehicle traffic as it hunted for mice and voles in the wild patches along the town's edges and roadways.  The bird was found injured but alive on a road where it had been hunting. Apparently it was struck by a vehicle.  It was taken to WSU veterinarians but did not survive.

Click Continue reading for more details about the bird and from WSU News. (Note the error in reporting that this is the first documented sighting of a hawk owl near Moscow):


How fast can peregrine falcons dive? See for yourself

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Peregrine falcons have long been considered the fastest bird on the planet. But now we're getting firm numbers.

Using high-tech sensors, scientists are ending the conjecture on how fast these sleek falcons can stoop on their hapless prey.

What's your guess?

Watch this remarkable video to the very end. You'll be surprised!

Idaho sets rules for falconers to take wild peregrines

WILDLIFE — Idaho will allow up to two peregrine falcons a year to be taken from the wild by selected falconers under rules adopted by the state Fish and Game Commission Tuesday.

Rules allow the take of nestling or juvenile wild peregrine falcons during open seasons from 2013 through 2015. The capture season runs May 1-Aug. 31.

Read on for more details and history.

Idaho may allow falconers to capture peregrines

FALCONRY — For the first time in more than 40 years, up to two falconers in Idaho may once again get limited opportunity to capture and keep a wild peregrine falcon — a species federally listed as endangered from 1970-1999.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department proposes to allow the capture of two juvenile peregrines from the wild for falconry purposes in 2013 and has developed a set of draft rules for public comment through March 11.

The American peregrine falcon has continued to rebound since being delisted to the extent that in 2004 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the capture of nestling peregrines from the wild for use in falconry.

In 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service also allowed capture of post-fledging first-year peregrines – hatch year or “passage” birds.

States have the authority to manage the capture of up to 5 percent of annual production. Based on Fish and Game surveys, the most juvenile peregrines that could be taken from the wild in Idaho in any given year would be two birds.

Montana, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona also allow the capture of peregrine falcons.

The peregrine has been used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, beginning with nomads in central Asia. Captured wild migratory peregrines were used regularly by North American falconers from 1938 to 1970 when the species was added to the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants.

Until 2004, nearly all peregrines used for falconry in the United States were captive-bred from the offspring of birds captured before the Endangered Species Act was enacted.

The successful recovery program involved a collaboration of Boise’s Peregrine Fund along with state and federal wildlife agencies. Falconers provided the needed expertise through a technique called “hacking,” the release of a captive-bred bird from a special cage at the top of a tower or cliff ledge.

Sprague lands high speed air show for eagle-eyed hawk watchers

BIRDWATCHING — While the new commander at Fairchild Air Force Base is looking into options for bringing back the big Air Show, area birdwatchers are finding their own aerial displays of high-speed flying.

You simply have to know where to look.

Check out this Tuesday report from local birder Jon Isacoff:

Quick run to Sprague sewage lagoons today.  A pleasant surprise was a PEREGRINE FALCON that bombed shorebirds and waterfowl several times, losing a chase with with a Wilson's Phalarope.  Shorebird species present:



Spotted Sandpiper

Greater YL

Lesser YL

Baird's Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher

WIlson's Phalarope

Backyard carnage

Referring to something in today's Slice column, Don Hartvigsen wrote “Be careful what you wish for” in the subject line of his email.

“We were wishing the other day that we did not have so many squirrels in our yard,” he wrote. “Well, recently we had 'new neighbors' move in, several Cooper's hawks.

“We soon began finding squirrel skeletons in the yard, pcked clean. We also noticed we no longer have our dear quail families, only daily piles of blue-gray feathers.

“And this morning while reading The Slice, I heard a small song bird in distress on our patio. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the Cooper's hawk perched on a patio chair 10 feet from the door. The song bird was cowering in a forsythia bush next to the door.

“I wish I hadn't wished for less squirrels.”

Local falconer’s Audubon program connects hunting, conservation

WILDLIFE — “Falconry and game hunting, a conservation alliance,” is the title of a program to be presented by Spokane falconer Doug Pineo on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The program is sponsored by the Spokane Audubon’s Society which meets at Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. near Upriver Drive.

Pineo's involvement in falconry dates back decades, and he was involved with the movement that brought the peregrine falcon back from the brink of extinction.  He recently retired a shoreline specialist with the Washington Department of Ecology.

Free raptor presentation at Blackwell Island; great for kids

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A nifty program on the wonder of hawks and owls will be presented Saturday (Sept. 24) near Coeur d'Alene at the Blackwell Island Boat Launch and Park.

Beth Paragamian and  West Valley Outdoor Learning Center will have live raptors as well as mounted specimens.  They will give a presentation focusing on Raptor Migration. 

Afterwards they plan to make s’mores and give attendees a chance to see the birds up close and ask questions.

The presentation starts at 6:15 at Blackwell Island, which is just outside of Coeur d'Alene on Highway 95.  Just after you cross the Spokane River heading south on 95 you will see the entrance on the right. 

There will be no charge for parking at the facility as it is also Public Lands Day and all BLM recreational user fees are waived for this day.

Oregon officer named Byrd rescues hawk

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — It's the kind of story that creates its own headline — Byrd Rescues Hawk.

Oregon's KGW-TV reports that Portland Police Bureau officer Cage Byrd — his real name — spotted a young red-tailed hawk standing outside a downtown hair salon on Tuesday.

The raptor chick appeared to be injured, so Byrd grabbed some towels and a box from a nearby hotel and took the hawk to a veterinary hospital.

The bird was later taken to the Audubon Society, which says the hawk probably fell from a nest near the KGW Audubon Raptor Cam. The remote camera records the activity of a raptor family and is shown on a website that has become popular.

One of the three chicks sustained a leg injury last week.

Hawks higher than a kite

WILDLIFE — Hawks aren't fond of competition in their territory, as we see in this photo of a bird attacking a hawk-shaped during the International Kite Festival in Ahmadabad, India, on Monday. Kite-flyers from 36 countries are participating in the festival. No word on how many hawks joined in.

Search for rough-legged hawks

BIRDWATCHING — The big rough-legged hawks Inland Northwest birders are used to seeing perched on power poles along roadways during winter seem to be in short supply this season.

In some years it's been common to see a the eagle-like hawks on almost every other telephone pole along Mount Spokane Road or I-90 in areas such as Tarkio as they look for rodents.

But this year, while the numbers seem lean in some areas, they seem more abundant in others, such as near Moscow Mountain, where eagle-eyed birder Terry Gray  of Moscow spotted eight in a short drive Wednesday morning, “and one was in my yard.”

The bird generously posed for the photo above.

Hawk makes a house call…

There was a loud thud against the living room window this morning, startling the cat who was looking out the window, and something large fell outside. Looking out, expecting perhaps a pigeon (it was too big for a quail), we were surprised to find a stunned Cooper’s hawk down on the ground below the second-story window, lying on its back unconscious. This is one of those Boise experiences. A quick call to the experts yielded instructions to put the injured bird in a box covered by a towel to recover; by that time, it had opened one eye and was starting to come around.

My husband took the bird off to a raptor rehabilitator, who checked out the hawk, a one-year-old female, and declared her sound and able to fly - and feisty as could be (her talons drew blood in the process). Then, we were instructed to release the hawk in our backyard, where it came from. When the box was uncovered, the hawk sat for a moment, looking around, then with a rush of wings, flew to the top of a tall tree, where it’s now resting comfortably and eyeing the view.