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Red-tails and Airports
© Bud Anderson
To protect passengers, planes, and birds at Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, biologists Bud Anderson of the Falcon Research Group and Steve Osmek capture, relocate, and monitor Red-tailed Hawks. The birds are banded, wing-tagged, and released 80 miles north. Bud says, “Almost none of them come back to the airport. So we’re learning that the program’s very effective.” If you see a wing-tagged Red-tailed Hawk in the Pacific Northwest, please report it to email@example.com.
Red-tails and Airports - Sea-Tac Wing-tag Study
Written by Todd Peterson
This is BirdNote.
[Scream of Red-tailed Hawk and roar of jet airplane taking off]
To protect passengers, planes, and birds at Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, biologists Steve Osmek and Bud Anderson capture, relocate, and monitor the travels of Red-tailed Hawks. The birds are banded, wing-tagged, and released 80 miles north of the airfield. Steve Osmek explains the importance of marking the birds so they can be identified:
Track 236 (Approximately 40:34) One of the main reasons we’re doing this study is because there’s been a long … debate among airports and airport biologists that it may not be a wise thing to be trapping and relocating raptors because there could be a tendency for these birds to come back to airfields. And so in order to test this theory, it made a lot of sense to us to make sure that we mark every bird… One, you can tell without a question if you have a problem bird that continued to return … But the other thing that it’s telling us is that these birds are not going to other airfields with any more frequency than they’re going to other places. These birds …seem to be distributing quite randomly and widely, and I really believe they go to the areas where the prey is greatest, they go where the living is easiest, like most any person would do. You take the easiest way out, that’s what you do…
Bud Anderson describes the results of their work:
Track 236 [13:46] …And to date it’s been phenomenal. We’ve moved something like 82 of these tagged birds. We’ve had resightings of 40% of those …They’re showing up all over, anywhere from Victoria on Vancouver Island... all the way down to south of Portland. So these guys move everywhere and almost none of them come back to the airport. So we’re learning that the program’s very effective.
To learn more about Sea-Tac Airport’s raptor study, come to our website: BirdNote.org.
Call of Red-tailed Hawk provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. #51214 recorded by L.J. Peyton.
Airport ambient recorded by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org March 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann
Report wing tagged hawks: firstname.lastname@example.org