Tucson Audubon Society Field Trip

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August 30 – September 2, 2013 (Labor Day Weekend) –Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon – 8:00 AM Q Ranch / Mogollon Rim /Tonto National Forest On Friday, carpool (requires high clearance vehicles) to historic Q Ranch near Young, AZ where 150 species of birds have been identified including raptors, tanagers, orioles, hummers, swallows, sparrows, warblers, and Mountain Bluebirds. Expect lots of other natural beauty, including post-monsoon wildflowers and dragonflies. Dark clear night skies at 5600 feet with plenty of stars. Combine birding with brief hikes to nearby scenic and historic locations.

Tour the 1000-year-old Q Ranch Mogollon-Culture Pueblo ruins. Depart ranch Monday after early birding and brunch. Ranch is a relatively poor cell-phone zone, but Verizon service is available within a few miles. All meals included. $135/person/night for shared room (we will link up sharers if possible). $200/person/night for single room. Full online or check payment is due by July 31, 2013 (www.qranch.com). Limited to 12 people total. Riders will pay ~$50 each for drivers’ gas cost. No out-of-the-way departures and ret! urns – you must be able to carpool from and return to Tucson or Phoenix and ride in someone else’s vehicle. For reservations and more info, contact trip leader Steve Buck (stevetucson@aol.com). Birding leader (present at Q Ranch only): Ken Furtado (ken@qranch.com).

More info at www.tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/birding/fieldtrips.html

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 2013

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This exciting birding festival features a program of presentations offering up-to-date technical information, as well as birding and wildlife experiences. Field trips will take birders into a number of different habitats on Florida’s spectacular Space Coast, as well as into nearby counties in search of specific special and rare birds. Other highlights of the festival include the Pelagic Birding Boat Trip and the Raptor Project. For more information visit www.spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org

Dates: 23-28 January 2013
Venue: Brevard Community College
City: Titusville
State: Florida
Country: United States

Education and Rehabilitation at Wild Wings Sanctuary

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With the goal of promoting environmental conservation through education, Wild Wings Inc. serves as a sanctuary and rehabilitation center focusing primarily on raptors, and offers educational programs to encourage awareness of, and personal responsibility for, the natural world of which we are all a part. Operating as a not-for-profit corporation, Wild Wings is located in the Mondon Ponds Park, near the intersection of Pond Road and Clover Street, Honeoye Falls, NY. Visitors to the sanctuary will be able to view the more than twenty birds of prey which, due to their injuries, are unable to be released into the wild and have become permanent residents at Wild Wings.

The permanent residents of Wild Wings include a magnificent female Golden Eagle named Isis that broke both wings when colliding with a car in 1995. Athena is a female Bald Eagle that suffered a gunshot wound and is no longer able to fly, while the male Harris’ Hawk Sierra was unsuccessful as a falconry bird and is unable to hunt for his food. Resident owls that have suffered various injuries and are unable to fend for themselves include the male Barred Owl named Hunter; the one-eyed female Eastern Screech Owl named Wink; the male Long-eared Owl named Cody; and a Saw-Whet Owl named Blaze. The birds are housed in large enclosures along a pathway, offering visitors a close-up view. Feeding of the birds is not permitted, and visitors are asked to refrain from making sudden movements and not make too much noise as this startles the birds.

Workshops, demonstrations and other educational programs are all part of the effort Wild Wings is making to educate the public about the difference each one of us can make in preserving nature and the environment. Among the Wild Wings Classes are Owls and Creatures of the Night; Nest Boxes; Animal House; Critter Class and Owl Pellet Program. The Wild Wings Raptors on the Road is a series of programs where trained volunteers travel to various venues to perform live bird of prey demonstrations, conduct owl pellet dissection workshops, give art and photography students the opportunity to use live raptors as models, and a general ‘meet and greet’ with a variety of birds. Wild Wings also offers programs to fulfill requirements for New York State Boy Scout and Girl Scout badges.

The beautiful setting at Mendon Ponds Park offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a day in the outdoors with nature hikes and guided tours. Add to this a visit to the Wild Wings facility and you have the perfect venue for a family outing.

Turtle Bay Bird Walk

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This guided walk takes birders to Turtle Bay and Kutras Lake where there are a variety of waders, waterfowl, raptors, gulls and winter resident passerines. Designed for youth from grades 4 to 8 and up, as well as beginners of all ages, the walk starts at the concrete monolith at Turtle Bay at 8:00 am. Children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information visit www.wintuaudubon.org

Date: 13 October 2012
Time: 08:00
Venue: Turtle Bay, Wintu
State: California
Country: United States

Big Chase Northern California 2012

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Join the Yolo Audubon Society on September 29 for the Big Chase Northern California. Fall migration will be well underway and birders will have the opportunity of seeing many shorebirds, raptors and passerines. The best locations to visit will be confirmed with the Northern California RBA prior to the event. It is not unusual to see more than 100 species in a day. For more information visit www.yoloaudubon.org

Date: 29 September 2012
Meeting Place: Mace Boulavard
City: Mace, Yolo County
State: California
Country: USA

Solitary Eagle’s Nest Discovered in Belize:Part 1

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On the 30th of June, 2011, a startling discovery was made: the bulky, stick nest of a Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus solitarius) was found in picturesque, mountainous terrain of the Mountain Pine Ridge, Cayo District, Belize. The nest was sighted after a 52-year lapse in any documented breeding records on the species and is only the third nest ever located in the world. At the time of this writing, it is the only nest known to exist of this rare species in its entire range from Mexico to South America. The nest was situated in a pine tree on a steep hillside, overlooking valleys of thick, broadleafed vegetation. A single, nearly fledged eaglet, dark brown above with golden colored eyebrows, cheeks and throat was in the nest at the time of discovery. An adult Solitary Eagle, presumably the female, stood guard at the edge of the nest while its mate was hunting. The eaglet often stayed low in the nest, in the shadow of the adult, protected from direct sunlight.

For decades, birdwatchers, tourists and wildlife enthusiasts noted the presence of Solitary Eagles in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, and the species was undoubtedly breeding there, but no definitive nests were ever located. The 1995 A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America by Howell & Webb noted that many reports of Solitary Eagles had come from Belize, but that none had confirmed it as a breeding species. Jack Clinton-Eitniear, Director of The Center for the Study of Tropical Birds, documented in a 1991 bulletin that Solitary Eagles had been observed in the Mountain Pine Ridge as far back as 1969. One of the references Clinton-Eitniear listed to validate the existence of this rare species in the Guatemala – Belize region was the 1989 Maya Project: Progress Report 2, produced by the late Bill Burnham, Pete Jenny and C. Turley of The World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. Tikal National Park, Guatemala–where the observations were made–is no more than a “stone’s throw away” from the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in Belize.

The elusive nest was discovered after a month-long, collaborative effort among six staff members employed by The Peregrine Fund. Five individuals: Stacia Novy, Camille Meyers, Jon Urbina, Audrey Martin and Matt Allshouse were hired to monitor and coordinate an Orange-breasted Falcon (Falco deiroleucus) release site in the summer of 2011. Dr. Scott Newbold was the acting field supervisor to the five attendants while on location. The sixth person, Roni Martinez of Belize, was paid by The Peregrine Fund as an intermittent consult to the project. A breeding pair of Solitary Eagles was regularly observed in the vicinity of the Orange-breasted Falcon release site and the five hack site attendants kept detailed observations on the eagles whenever one was sighted. Data collected included flight patterns, direction of movement, prey items, vocalizations and interactions with other raptorial birds. All sightings were reported to Roni, as he was a local ecotourism guide and familiar with the geography of the area. Although Roni was a Peregrine Fund employee, he worked fulltime at another locality and, consequently, was not present on the days the eagles were sighted at the hack site in June 2011. Stacia, the lead coordinator of the search, emailed sightings and data to keep him informed of any new developments.

As a licensed falconer and biologist, the author knew that breeding birds-of-prey will fly directly to the nest to feed eyasses while carrying prey items. She instructed her coworkers to closely follow the Solitary Eagle with optics anytime the eagle was spotted carrying prey. Unlike members of the genus Accipiter that utilize powered, flapping flight to navigate across the landscape, the Solitary Eagle is a large soaring bird, much like a Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus). Observations suggest it is a static soarer, using both convection currents (thermals) and obstruction currents (created by slopes and ridges) for movement. Knowing these subtle differences in raptor flight patterns and movement strategies proved critical in determining the location of the nest site. So, too, were traditional tracking skills possessed by the author. Stacia flew trained falconry birds for the first dozen years of her falconry career without radio telemetry. The knowledge she refined in tracking wild birds by sight alone, without the aid of modern technology, proved crucial to the nest discovery. The author relied on additional environmental cues, such as wind direction, mobbing behavior of other birds, alarm calls and raptor behavior to narrow down the nesting area.

Continued in Part 2

Article contributed by Stacia A. Novy

Photo: Solitary Eagle Nest

Caption: A female Solitary Eagle stands guard over the nest with a single
chick in the Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize