Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Losing birds, finding birds...

We have been so busy checking nests, still reading bands and counting heads. Sadly we are also documenting a number of failed nests. It's so sad when one week you are happily watching hem feeding chicks and the next week, everyone is gone, or you can only find one or both adults. Many times I do not know the cause of the failure. Of course chicks do die of natural causes, and they are also predated, most commonly by Great Horned Owls. If I find both adults alive it lessens the sadness as they will get another chance next year. Ospreys are a fairly long lived bird and we can expect some breeding failures in their lifetime. It is much sadder to me when a breeding adult dies. So I am searching for some missing adults, hoping they are still alive. 
While we sadly learned of the death of Mr 79 as a result of his band, we have also learned of a happy story, as the result of reading a band. I recently read a silver federal band on a female. She had no color band, (having a color band would mean that she was banded as a chick on a nest in the metro). The federal bands have 8 small engraved numbers that wrap around the band. They can be very difficult to read and really are intended to identify a dead bird. The larger two digit color bands are designed to identify living birds, since they can be read fairly easily from a distance with a spotting scope. But I spent several hours reading a females band and reported the band number to the National Banding lab, who informed me that she had been banded by the Raptor Center two years ago. I talked to my friends at TRC and learned she was a 2013 fledgling who was found on the ground with a broken coracoid bone in her shoulder. She spent a month at the Raptor Center and was released at the end of October of that year. Anytime a young bird spends a month in the hospital, it can have a very negative affect on their development since they miss time needed in the wild to learn to fish and fly and care for itself before they undertake their first migration.  So they released her with fingers crossed and I was able to identify her two years later, attempting to build a nest with a young male! The Raptor Center was excited to learn this news, as was I to learn the rest of her story! She successfully migrated and has survived to return to her home and search for a male and a territory! So her medical treatment at TRC was successful! Banding can supply such important information to us! Unfortunately, the nest she and her male friend were building was on an active power pole and it was removed , so we are looking for that pair again. Please help us by reporting any new nests, sticks being dropped on power poles, cell towers, lights over ballfields etc. We rely on the public to assist us with this research by reporting their observations to us. These sightings can be so important to so many people, for so many reasons! (Email us at

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