Tag Archives: hawk

The fourth chick, which hatched three days after the first three chicks, was cared for by raptor biologist Craig Koppie. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS

Peregrine chicks cleared for flight in Wilmington, Del.

The peregrine falcon chicks on the 19th floor of the Brandywine Building in Wilmington, Del. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS.

The peregrine falcon chicks on the 19th floor of the Brandywine Building in Wilmington, Del. The camera is sponsored by the Delaware Ornithological Society and DuPont’s Clear Into the Future initiative. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS.

This Tuesday, the four peregrine falcon chicks on the 19th floor of the Brandywine Building in Wilmington, Del., got a little bling of their own – colorful leg bands that will further knowledge about the regional peregrine population.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Craig Koppie gave the chicks their bands to help gather data from the falcons as they spread their wings into adulthood. Craig has kept a watchful eye on these chicks since they hatched, and his efforts helped ensure that all four survived.

The fourth chick, which hatched three days after the first three chicks, was cared for by raptor biologist Craig Koppie. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS

The fourth chick, which hatched three days after the first three chicks, was cared for by raptor biologist Craig Koppie. Here the chick is 3 days old. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS

Back in April, the first three eggs hatched together on the same day. Three days later, the fourth hatched, leaving a smaller, virtually helpless chick. It had little chance to compete with its larger siblings and a low chance of survival.

Craig was authorized by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife (under the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) to make an emergency intercession. He removed the chick from the nest, nurtured it for two weeks until it had a fighting appetite for life and reached a size comparable to that of its siblings.

Craig nurtured the fourth chick for two weeks until it reached a size comparable to that of its siblings. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS

Craig nurtured the fourth chick for two weeks until it reached a size comparable to that of its siblings. Credit: Craig Koppie/USFWS

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Craig Koppie with a captured golden eagle. Photo courtesy of Kennon Smith.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Craig Koppie with a captured golden eagle. Photo courtesy of Kennon Smith.

Upon the chick’s return to the nest box, the mother – affectionately known as “Red Girl” to Falcon Cam devotees – brought in a small bird and fed the other siblings until the very last piece, which she gave to the little one, his first piece of food from his mother since he hatched.

About an hour and half later, Red Girl came in with a pigeon.

“The young male forced his way to the front and was fed by the mother until his crop was full,” Craig says.

When Craig came to band the chicks Tuesday, all four from the “class of 2013” were found to be thriving.

“The peregrine chicks usually stay on the ledge until around 6 weeks,” he says.

Did you hear about the Cooper’s hawk rescued from the Library of Congress in 2011? Craig was in on that, too!

The males are expected to exit first since they develop more quickly. When that happens, they’ll fly off with a little colorful reminder of where they came from. Resightings of the “class of 2013” will add to a growing database with valuable information on falcon movements, ancestry and adaptability to changing environments.

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Credit: USFWS

Service special agent reduces injuries to hawks at Mass. landfills

Marla Isaac examines red-tailed hawk. Credit: James Dowd/USFWS

Rehabilitator Marla Isaac examines a red-tailed hawk injured at Taunton Sanitary Landfill. Credit: James Dowd/USFWS

These methane-burning stacks at landfills are dangerous. They expel flames that burn hawks. Credit: James Dowd/USFWS

These methane-burning stacks at landfills are dangerous. They expel flames that burn hawks. Credit: James Dowd/USFWS

Designed by Joanne Mason of Keeping Company with Kestrels Inc., these tops are shaped like a crown with sharp points, preventing birds from perching on the smokestack. Credit: James Dowd/USFWS

Designed by Joanne Mason of Keeping Company with Kestrels Inc., these tops are shaped like a crown with sharp points, preventing birds from perching on the smokestack. Credit: James Dowd/USFWS

When hawks fly across landfills, they find smokestacks perfect for perching and eyeing prey scavenging waste.

But those smokestacks aren’t so perfect. They ignite, rushing flames upward in speeds the hawks can’t beat, scorching or even killing the birds. Injured birds become prime targets for coyotes and other predators.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent James Dowd has taken a creative route to handle these injuries to hawks at Massachusetts landfills.

In 2011, he got a call from a raptor rehabilitator – an injured female juvenile red-tailed hawk had been found around Taunton Sanitary Landfill.

“The rehabilitator, Marla Isaac, described the hawk’s injuries as burns to the wing and tail feathers,” Dowd says. “She explained that this injury is consistent with having been burned by a methane gas flare stack.”

These stacks burn methane gas, which is produced by landfills for energy and burned to destroy dangerous pollutants in excess gas.

“A single perch discourager would prevent hawks from perching on these flare systems,” he says.

DID YOU KNOW?
Hawks are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Service’s law enforcement enforce this and conserve migratory birds, in addition to helping manage ecosystems, save endangered species, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species and promote international wildlife conservation. Learn more.

Dowd worked with company operating the smokestack, Fortistar, to get an aluminum top placed on the smokestack flare system. Designed by Joanne Mason of Keeping Company with Kestrels Inc., the tops are shaped like a crown with sharp points, preventing birds from perching there.

To this date, no other bird injuries have been reported, and Fortistar committed to using these tops on all their new smokestack flare systems.

In 2012, another incident demonstrated that other conditions can circumvent the success of these perch-deterring tops. At the Halifax Landfill, the smokestack was positioned between two other perch spots, with the flight path directly over the flame of the smokestack.

This injured kestrel with burns to its wing and tail feathers was brought from the Halifax Landfill for rehabilitation. Credit: USFWS

This injured kestrel with burns to its wing and tail feathers was brought from the Halifax Landfill for rehabilitation. Credit: USFWS

An injured kestrel with burns to its wing and tail feathers was brought from the landfill for rehabilitation. While Isaac expects it will fly again this summer, she won’t release the kestrel because burns to its left eye caused blindness. This kestrel will need to live the remainder of its life in an educational facility.

Dowd worked with the smokestack operator, Republic Services, to remove one of the perch spots, an old utility pole.

“This change in configuration should lessen the chances of a bird flying from perch to perch directly over the flare system,” Dowd says.

In late 2012, Dowd watched as the fully recovered hawk from Taunton Landfill was released at the Lyman Reserve conservation area in Wareham, Mass.

Photo of Marla Isaac from The Clueless Gardeners blog.

Photo of Marla Isaac from The Clueless Gardeners blog.