Sunday, January 15, 2017

Birding & Brunch: raptors

They are intense, watchful, ever-ready to strike, with eyes like opera glasses and grappling hooks for feet. An active red-tailed hawk needs to find and kill three to four mice a day. Don't fret, death comes quick. And it's necessary to maintain balance in nature.

All hawks were once shot on sight, considered vermin. In the early 1900s, Pennsylvania set a bounty of 50 cents on every dead hawk turned in to authorities. It is reported that in a two year period 180,000 hawks were killed and the bounty collected. (Do the math.) The state's small rodent population consequently soared. If each of the 180,000 hawks had lived and each had eaten three mice a day, in the two year time frame, 393 million mice, moles, voles and shrews would have been removed from the environment. Pennsylvania did the math, and ended the bounty program quickly. So, hawks and other birds-of prey are our watch dogs. 

Love 'em. Love 'em. Love 'em.  

Thanks to all who attended my Birding & Brunch Saturday morning at Ijams. Our topic was local birds-of-prey, their life histories and how to identify these raptors with minimal clues. Ijams offers one Birding & Brunch a month. In February we'll be talking about bird nesting and building bluebird boxes.

Thanks to Christie and Kim for preparing the brunch and thank you to Ijams' friends Jason Dykes, Jim McCormick and Chuck Cooper for providing these photos.

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