Generally speaking, only birds up to a certain size will get caught in mist-nets meant for trapping passerines. That size constraint is usually around the size of an American Robin, or the occasional male Sharp-shinned Hawk--as you have seen. Birds that are any larger will usually not get tangled in the small-sized mesh of the mist-net, and are able to free themselves with a little struggle--or simply break through the net if large or strong enough. So then, on Saturday, Dan and Cory were pleasantly surprised when they were on the closing net run and came upon this SY Red-shouldered Hawk in one of our nets. It was barely caught, so we were lucky that she didn't free herself before Dan and Cory were able to grab her.
|SY female Red-shouldered Hawk|
|Luke and the RSHA|
|Dan with the RSHA. They both look pretty confused.|
|Cory and the RSHA|
After processing and banding the bird we did a quick search through PRBO's data and found that there have only been nine individual RSHA banded at Palomarin in the forty-six years of its existence, and only 12 captures total (i.e. some were recaptures of the same individual). We are pretty lucky. Even luckier was the fact that yesterday Dan and Frenchie caught another most likely second year RSHA, this time a male, at one of our offsites, Pine Gulch. That makes two RSHA in three days (needless to say Cory and I were pretty jealous)! To make matters more interesting, the bird has features that are quite similar to Broad-winged Hawk. We are currently trying to confirm this bird's identity, and although we are leaning towards RSHA, it is certainly an interesting bird. We will have more on this within the next few days.
By Cory Ritter and Luke Musher
Photos mostly by Dan Lipp