Chelan: Peregrine v Sharp-shinned

Another week seems to have passed as quickly as a Peregrine Falcon dive bombing a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Seriously though, that was a sight we witnessed right next to us on the obs. Peregrine Falcons not only resemble fighter jets (or really the other way around), but they sound like them, too when they hunt right next to your head. It is up there on my list of Chelan Ridge HawkWatch top 5 favorites from this fall. This week has added a couple more to my list. I really can’t decide which moment from this season tops the other, so here they are in no particular order.

  • Most important from this week – we are so proud of TC Walker for catching our season’s first Golden Eagle! Both TC and I each narrowly missed capturing spectacular Goldens the day before (along with our first Rough-legged Hawk and several others – it was just one of those disheartening days)… so to watch the following day from obs as TC expertly lured in a hungry young male Golden Eagle was incredible. That eagle was a blessing, and I really believe it touched all our lives.
  • Did I mention the Peregrine Falcon hunting right next to my head? Right after it dive-bombed and missed the feisty Sharpie, it set its sights on a grey ghost. What a chase. A moment I will never forget.
  • Birds of prey are obviously what we are up at Chelan Ridge HawkWatch for, but all the other wildlife we witness is a special treat. We have seen at least two moose (a cow and a massive bull), several coyotes (a gorgeous pair, one grey, one red, were traversing the road this week), black bears (who doesn’t love black bears?), chipmunks, ground squirrels, snowshoe hair, mule deer, white-tailed deer, rubber boas and many others!
  • Putting a hawk in someone’s hand for the first time, witnessing their nervous excitement change to complete love and awe for such a magnificent animal. I remember holding my first hawk this season—life-changing. Now we all get to be a part of changing other people’s lives. It is a very special part of this job.
  • Campfires! Nothing warms the body and the heart like spending the evening relaxing by a campfire with great coworkers, friends, and visitors after a chilly day of work.

With a few weeks left to go, I am sure more will be added to my list of Chelan Ridge HawkWatch favorites. The season seems like it will be over before we know it. Days are shorter, nights are longer and colder, but I (and everyone up here, I’m sure) am treasuring every moment. It’s not too late to come visit this season and witness the raptor migration!

This blog was written by Jessica Buskirk, a member of the 2016 Chelan Ridge migration crew.

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