Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cape May - Raptor Banding Demonstration

Certain days of the week there is a raptor banding demonstration near the Hawk Watch at Cape May.  I found it most interesting. Since they started banding hawks, they've banded over 132,000 and gotten data back from over 2000. One of the more interesting stories was of a chick that was banded in the nest Greenland and captured at Cape May a mere three weeks later! Amazing!

Most of the time, the birds are captured, banded and immediately released. For the demonstration, the raptors are put in these tubes because it calms them down.  They are only kept in these tubes a very short time, long enough for the visitors to see these amazing creatures up close and to learn about them in a way that would not be possible otherwise. The birds are released unharmed to continue on their journey south.

In order to capture the raptors to band them, you must set a trap using bait birds. The bait birds used are pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows. However, it is amazing how these bait birds are treated. They have flack jackets tailored for each size bird. The pigeon's protective gear is made from Lexus leather car seats.

The sparrow's is made from leather jackets. The sparrow one was so tiny and actually cute.
 We got to see  sharp shinned hawks,

a Cooper's hawks,

and a peregrin falcon. 

He showed us how their feet are specially made to capture their prey and how their heads don't move during flight so they can find their prey easier.

The crowd was fascinated, as was I.  I hadn't brought my big camera, but I couldn't help myself - I pulled out my iPhone and was shooting snapshots for memories.

1 comment:

Modesto Viegas said...

Interesting blog and an interesting stoty!!!