Budding Biologists Visit Chelan Ridge

04 October 2017
Magill Schumm shows kids a male Merlin of the Taiga subspecies. Photo by Alyssa Davidge Magill Schumm shows kids a male Merlin of the Taiga subspecies. Photo by Alyssa Davidge

Text and artwork by Alma Schrage

Hallo from Chelan Ridge!

On Sept 16 and 17 we had our annual Hawkfest to celebrate the raptors we see here at Chelan Ridge HawkWatch. Our visitors who made the trip up to our site got to see Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks released, and a group that came up to the observation point got to see Broad-winged Hawks pass directly overhead. Rare in the West, Chelan Ridge is considered a reliable place to see them in the fall. Nonetheless, we usually count less than twenty of these raptor species each fall, out of ~1,500 birds counted.

We were also lucky to be visited a week later by a group of nascent biologists, a mixed class of kids ranging from first to fourth grade. They got to see a male Merlin up close, as well spend some quality time with a calm hatch year female Sharp-shinned Hawk. Captivated, they quickly determined that she needed a name. Our crewmember Magill Schumm had just introduced them to the subtleties of distinguishing Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, and they seriously considered naming their sharpie Cooper to make things even more confusing! Ultimately Charlotte was decided upon by class vote, and one lucky kid got to release her into the big blue. Safe travels, Charlotte!

hatchyearmale NOHA sketchbyalmaschrage

Sketches of a hatch year male Northern Harrier, not normally found in the mountainous area surrounding Chelan Ridge, they pass through during migration. Their facial disks allow for a greater degree of auditory hunting than most diurnal raptors, and also gives them a curious appearance. Illustrated by Alma Schrage.

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