The TRC research team is collaborating with Jim Kidd from Kidd biological to track the movements of Rough-legged Hawks that migrate to the Western US from their arctic breeding grounds. Together, we're using solar powered transmitters to track where these magnificent birds breed, migrate, and over-winter. Steve Poole documented Bryan and Katherine outfitting this adult female with a transmitter. Within a week, she moved from western Wyoming down near the Colorado border 200 miles away! Here's Steve's account of the experience:
I was honored to go with Bryan and Katherine on a quest to capture a Roughy or two on Tuesday. I had a great encounter with the biologists and a Rough-legged Hawk (RLHA) while also seeing many more raptors and other wildlife.
The trap was a rather ingenious idea that seems quite harmless to the birds (not so good for the mouse). A spring loaded loop of string closed upon the birds' legs as they attempted to grab a mouse from the platform. Our first attempt at the RLHA was foiled by the bird managing to swipe the mouse off the trap without triggering the capture loop. Bryan worked a bit on the trap as we watched the hawk eat our mouse on a post 100 yards off the road.
The second time at the same bird was a bit unnerving as the hawk landed right next to the trap rather than on the top as planned. A hop up onto the platform after the mouse was all it took to trigger a string loop grab of a talon and we had a RLHA.
Bryan and Katherine worked through their process of banding, measuring, weighing, and collecting a feather sample in a cold Wyoming wind that added a cool nip to the fast working fingers.
Bryan attached a solar powered transmitter to the birds back, carefully fitting and testing the placement as we snapped a few pictures documenting the tail, wings, chest and head.
Katherine released the hawk back into the Wyoming sky against a beautiful backdrop of the Wind River Range. We saw many more raptors but were unsuccessful in any more captures and headed home hoping for more luck on another day
Thankful for the great opportunity,
Steve has a passion for spending time in the outdoors. He has practiced taking photographs since he was given a camera in high school. Steve hopes that those who view his pictures pictures are inspired to appreciate our environment and fellow creatures. Steve’s favorite raptor is the one that is posing for his viewfinder.