Text and photos by Ben Sweet, Sarah Hecocks, Scott Shively, and Kate Owens
We have a great crew at the Bonney Butte HawkWatch this year comprised of three hawkwatching veterans and two members who, although new to migration, are coming with valuable bird experience: Ben Sweet, Sarah Hecocks, Scott Shively, Kate Owens, and Ceeanna Zulla. We are excited not only for the amazing raptors and striking panoramas Bonney Butte has to offer, but also for the opportunity to be a part of such a long-standing research effort to study migrating raptors! Combine our crew’s passion and experience with the knowledge of our long-term site partners and devoted volunteers, and we are primed for success this year!
Despite relatively slow flights, which are to be expected in the early season, we are off to a great start and our first week of operations has been full of excitement!
We are feeling particularly spoiled to have three major “gourmet” birds caught in the first few days of banding: a juvenile Prairie Falcon, an immature Northern Goshawk, and a recaptured, sub-adult Golden Eagle! We also can’t forget to mention a handful of classic captures involving Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s Hawks.
Daily observations have not been without thrills, either, as we are getting some great close-up looks at birds while still brushing off our ID skills on the far out specks. We have witnessed riveting aerial dogfights between our local Red-tails and a young Goshawk that’s been hanging around the Butte, not to mention “sharpie” buzzes and eagle fly-bys among the noteworthy sightings.
We can’t wait to watch the season unfold and to share it with all of you! So if you are reading this and have the ability to travel to Bonney Butte PLEASE COME VISIT! We are only a two-hour drive from Portland making the trip feasible as a day drive or an overnight with nearby camping at Bonney Meadow campground. We would love to meet you and have the opportunity to spread the joy and excitement of raptor migration. So come on up to test our hawk knowledge and don’t forget to BYOB—Binoculars that is!