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bob_G

Winter birds

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17 mins ago, mikez2 said:

Eagles have come back really strong and nest in several places in Massachusetts. 

In central Ma we mostly see wintering birds which congregate along the Merrimack river but also follow the Nashua river between the Merrimack and Wachusett res. They tend to stop over in the area of the Oxbow NWR.

 

Redtails are our resident raptor. Life is so easy, they don't migrate or even leave a good neighborhood year round. There is a pair which nest somewhere near every one of you reading this. Probably a big white pine.

This is pre-breeding season. Another month before you see actual courtship. This time of year the pair will work together to drive off passing strangers or their own young to protect feeding/nesting areas.

 

The courtship of late Feb early March is when redtails put on a show.

Of course everyone is familiar with the soaring. You see em everywhere. 

 

You may see a hawk go into a long stoop and dive as if attacking prey only to have him zoom over the back of a perched female. Watch long enough and you'll see em mate.

 

Sometimes you will see him carry sticks to the nest symbolically adding to the nest to show what a good house keeper he is.

Other times you may see him carry prey to the nest even though it's not yet in use. He leaves it as a tempting gift for his mate.

 

BTW, if you see a redtail in feb carrying anything, stick or prey, you can easily follow him to the nest. They are not yet careful to stay hidden. Later, when she's on the nest and the trees are leafed out, they're so secretive they're much harder to find.

I'm definitely going to look out for that this year. I'm really a duck guy, but eagles and hawks are so freaking cool. I'm always amazed when sitting in the tree stand deer hunting and a red tail swoops through the woods. Blows my mind that they don't fly into stuff.

 

We had a pair of big owls (great horned I'm pretty sure) that nested right above the 4th tee at my local course. It was very cool playing week after week and watching the progression of the young.

 

Bird watching seems like a relaxing activity. You bring your bowl, I'll bring a couple wobbly-pops and we'd have a jolly good time.

Edited by JTR

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7 mins ago, JTR said:

I'm definitely going to look out for that this year. I'm really a duck guy, but eagles and hawks are so freaking cool. I'm always amazed when sitting in the tree stand deer hunting and a red tail swoops through the woods. Blows my mind that they don't fly into stuff.

 

We had a pair of big owls (great horned I'm pretty sure) that nested right above the 4th tee at my local course. It was very cool playing week after week and watching the progression of the young.

 

Bird watching seems like a relaxing activity. You bring your bowl, I'll bring a couple wobbly-pops and we'd have a jolly good time.

Great horned owls frequently steal redtail nests.

Redtails frequently nest on golf courses.

Sounds like you already found one nest. One or the other will reuse it if it's in good shape.

 

Once you start noticing a hawk always perched in the same tree, you know you are in his local territory. Then it's not hard to figure out where the nest is. Once you learn to find nests, you see them everywhere. 

Just don't tell Birders you are looking for nests. Especially hawk nests.

 

This winter my goal is to return to the territory of the goshawk pair I found in May. The goshawk courtship "Sky Dance" is something very rarely observed, certainly rarely around here. I intend to see it.

 

 

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14 mins ago, mikez2 said:

Just don't tell Birders you are looking for nests. Especially hawk nests.

Why not? Is it poor etiquette or something? Or do you not want people to follow you to the nests?

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55 mins ago, JTR said:

Why not? Is it poor etiquette or something? Or do you not want people to follow you to the nests?

All birders will tell you it's bad etiquette to bother birds on the nest. Some photographers can be intrusive and drive birds off the nest which can be annoying or can be catastrophic. 

The Bird Nazis go too far, act as if species go extinct if you creep near the nest.

Not true (with care).

 

Typical is the scientific book I read in which the author starts with 3 pages on why one must never approach nests.

Then the following entire 300 pages is data collected at nests.

 

Hawk nests are particularly taboo because falconry is legal in Massachusetts and a licensed falconer can remove hawks from the wild.

Birders have a real problem with that and imagine falconers lurking behind every tree waited to rob a nest.

Showing interest in hawk nests is suspicious activity. 

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1 hour ago, bdowning said:

So why do crows sometimes mob hawks (and owls and ospreys) ?

Almost all birds raise some kind of alarm when they see a hawk, especially at breeding season. 

Often the whole woods come alive with numerous individuals of various species all calling in alarm.

I use this noise to find hawks and owls all the time. Often the commotion is minor and if you don't recognize alarm calls, just sounds like bird noise.

I reliably find hawks and owls by following bird alarm calls.

I have also found cats, fox, coyotes, snakes and a bobcat following alarm calls.

 

The point is, crows just doing what other birds do. They are just bigger and bolder and more obvious so humans notice more.

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18 mins ago, mikez2 said:

Hawk nests are particularly taboo because falconry is legal in Massachusetts and a licensed falconer can remove hawks from the wild.

Birders have a real problem with that and imagine falconers lurking behind every tree waited to rob a nest.

Showing interest in hawk nests is suspicious activity. 

This has always intrigued me. Never knew where these guys actually got the birds. Interesting that they can take them from the wild.

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28 mins ago, JTR said:

This has always intrigued me. Never knew where these guys actually got the birds. Interesting that they can take them from the wild.

Not many people are aware of it. It's pretty low key, not many do it.

I hope to see it done for the first time this coming weekend. Shhh, don't tell the birders. I won't have anymore bird groups on FB let me stay.

 

The goshawk nest in particular is superduper hush hush. That is a species at the top of the desirable list and rarely seen in Ma. That kind of bird can attract honest to god bad guys.

Put it this way - when I was near the nest (which was known to officials), I always assumed I was on video.

No peepee breaks.

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5 mins ago, mikez2 said:

Not many people are aware of it. It's pretty low key, not many do it.

I hope to see it done for the first time this coming weekend. Shhh, don't tell the birders. I won't have anymore bird groups on FB let me stay.

 

The goshawk nest in particular is superduper hush hush. That is a species at the top of the desirable list and rarely seen in Ma. That kind of bird can attract honest to god bad guys.

Put it this way - when I was near the nest (which was known to officials), I always assumed I was on video.

No peepee breaks.

I need to get more involved in birding. I see all sorts of different birds while sitting in the stand. Identifying them as a bird of prey is usually as far as I can take it. 

 

I have seen videos of falconry, but only for rabbits. Never seen them go after ducks.

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Ah!  "Duck Hawk" is actually a name that John J. Audubon gave to the peregrine falcon.  His painting of the species shows two falcons on a partially eaten duck.

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Well I'm a little disappointed I didn't get better pics yesterday. 

For one, I sensed pics were not welcome even though they said yes when I asked. No posing in the field, that's for sure. Everything moved too quick.

 

These guys are friends of my son. My son is interested in falconry. I'm more interested in the birds and the nature part. I have read on it and watched lots of video.

I don't know the jargon and did not ask technical questions 

 

The bird we hunted was a young redtail. She would have been taken from a nest locally. I believe she will be released eventually, I didn't ask.

In the second to last pic you can see the bird perched in upper right, showing how we drove the brush while the bird waited for a bunny. We flushed a couple but the bird wasn't in the mood. Possibly not hungry or possibly disturbed by too many people and a dog. The dog was a german shorthair that was supposed to flush bunnies but was maybe past his prime. 

 

Eventually the local pair of adult redtails began harassing our young bird and she quit, obviously flustered. 

 

The last pic shows a young goshawk in her box with hood. I almost didn't share this as I find it an undignified view of a most noble animal. 

I showed it for size comparison and to show the set up. Note the pine branches. Something about the greens calms them. They put greens in their nests in the wild.

Unfortunately we ran out of time and couldn't see the gos fly.

 

I hope to wrangle more invites so maybe I'll be able to share some gos pics eventually. 

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I see you holding the bird fairly close to your face, are you not afraid that with no hood on the bird that it may decide to use its bill at you? Or is that some thing you also train the bird to not do , prior to the release. ?

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32 mins ago, Angler #1 said:

I see you holding the bird fairly close to your face, are you not afraid that with no hood on the bird that it may decide to use its bill at you? Or is that some thing you also train the bird to not do , prior to the release. ?

It's not me in the pic.

I do know the birds can get nippy. They are after all wild animals. 

I have to assume the handler was comfortable enough with the bird to know it was safe.

 

The redtails are much tamer more agreeable than a goshawk. I suspect they treat a gos with more care. At least when it's hungry.

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On 1/10/2019 at 4:07 PM, bob_G said:

My wife and I really enjoy feeding the birds. After disappearing to parts unknown, my cardinals have returned in force. Had a lonely pair hanging around since the summer. But in the last week I see flashes of red and orange flying all around the yard as the males and females chase each other.  They're on the feeders until dark each night.

Huge influx of eiders this year. Walked Charlie around 11pm the other night, and I could hear them gurgling on the Bell Rd mud flats so loud, you'd have thought they were on my front lawn.

the eiders have single handledly decimited the mussel population down there. When I was a young kid the mud flats as you call it was known to us as the mussel bed because of all the mussels. 

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10 hours ago, gray gables said:

the eiders have single handledly decimited the mussel population down there. When I was a young kid the mud flats as you call it was known to us as the mussel bed because of all the mussels. 

Were the eiders around then? I’d be somewhat surprised if this was a recent thing, considering that eider populations have declined recently.

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