Text by Cherin (Goshutes interpreter), Photos by Cherin and Caitlin (bander).
The Hawk-alypse is near! The sky at the Goshutes, NV blacked out with raptors on Friday (Sept 26). We were anxious for our count to exceed 10,000 total migrants, and our counters surpassed the goal by over 1,000. Russ and Rya counted 2,202 raptors! One of the biggest single count days on record! The sky sailed with 996 Accipiters, followed by 679 Buteos. We doubled our Swainson's hawk count in one day and saw 45 Broad-winged hawks. Vultures came in third with 293, mostly kettles of 30 to 50 birds each and 203 falcons. And in the mix of hundreds of migrants, Russ spotted a Mississippi kite.
A group of 13 students (17-18 years of age) from the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas (Texas) joined us from the flatlands, sweating and breathing heavily upon their arrival. They had the awesome opportunity to release a female Northern Goshawk and a Red-tailed hawk that were captured during their visit. They were hooked! A total of 81 birds were captured, banded, measured, and health assessed during their stay, which meant each of them got to release at least one bird back into the wild to continue the migration journey. Such a profound experience, getting to connect with nature by holding and releasing a wild hawk! We also threw in a juvenile Prairie Falcon mid afternoon. They were identifying accipiters in the hand to species, age and sex, and they were right every time. We love to see the excitement of hawk migration instilled in their minds. We hope they will never forget their experience, and will perhaps become a young scientist, biologist, or conservationist themselves. And we will never forget our count this day and the thrill and excitement of over 2,000 migrants at a Western count site and the folks we had here to share it with.