Cold, Raptor Watching and Global Warming

There is know doubt that the folks in Virginia and North Carolina are not used to a lot of snow. I would not want to go through a cold weather outage like the folks in Oklahoma. In Southwest Montana it is 20 degrees outside and there is about a foot of snow on the ground down here; about 5,000 feet, in the valley. This evening, and all day tommorow, it is projected to snow here. Even flurries around here can be a lot of snow and I have seen people around here drive during the actual snowstorm.

This past fall I watched raptors (diurnal birds of prey) at Hawk Ridge Observatory, above the town of Dulluth, Minnesota, a Lake Superior Port where Bob Dylan grew up. I really like to hawkwatch, there is a number of hawkwatching sites throughout the world and I have been to many of these sites and I highly recommend hawkwatching to the birder, and there are many of us.

I went to see as many as 100,000 Broadwinged-hawks mirate over Hawk Ridge. I missed the primary Broad-winged Hawk migration, but I did see a good migration of Sharp-shinned hawks, some birds very close.

Some of the highlites at Hawk Ridge include about 5 Northern Goshawks, some of those Gossies were right up at Hawk Ridge. There were 7 peregrine falcons observed. One was caught in banding traps on the “Ridge” while I was there. A Gyr Falcon (Visitor from the north) visited Hawk Ridge.

One day several thousand, mostly Yellow-rumped, warblers migrated through Hawk Ridge.

Almost every day hawks are caught in the banding nets and shown off to an interested public and each hawk  captured is talked about. These hawks are adopted and then released at Hawk Ridge by the adopter. While I was at Hawk Ridge Sharp-shinned Hawks were the most common Hawk captured. I highly recommend Hawk Ridge to view hawks in the fall.

I think hawks will be negatively impacted by a warming climate. Photoperiod will be impacted, in particular hawk breeding periods and food/eating periods will be impacted. Species like the already rare Northern Goshawk will in the short-term shift their range North.  Arctic species will find even more sparse nesting areas and decline and a rarer bird will become rarer. Will these species die out? I am not sure.

Matt

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