January 1, 2002

2002 Winter Bulletin


FRG members Kathy Gunther, Wendy Gibble, Mark Prostor and Bud Anderson traveled to southern Chile and the Falkland Islands in November and December. This expedition was part of our ongoing Global Peregrine DNA Survey. The main goals of the trip were to collect blood samples for DNA analysis, gather breeding/distribution data on the rare white morph peregrine in Patagonia and try our best for some samples in the Falklands.

We began by surveying the Straits of Magellan in Chile. Despite snow, rain and heavy winds, we were able to locate and visit 6 peregrine eyries, both coastal and inland. Remarkably, most of these birds were the incredibly beautiful white morph falcons. We succeeded in collecting 5 samples from adults representing this population. Our Chilean friend, Christian Gonzalez, a falcon videographer, joined us on this leg of the trip.

We traveled next to the Falkland Islands for an additional week. Little is known about these particular island peregrines and so we knew that ANY data we could gather would be of value. With the wonderful help of the local people, particularly our guide, Tim Stenning, we were able to locate 5 eyries on East Falkland Island. We gained another 5 samples from these nestlings. As luck would have it, the blood samples represent the geographic extremes of the island. We were also able to document several new prey species for Falkland peregrines, including Sooty Shearwaters.

Wendy and Kathy stayed an additional two weeks in the Falklands at New Island while Mark and Bud headed home, stopping in Santiago for a day to collect 5 more samples from central Chilean peregrines.

The current goal of the Global Peregrine DNA Project is to sample all of the sub-populations of peregrines in the Western Hemisphere. Since most of North America has already been completed, we are now focusing our efforts on Latin America. This trip completed the sampling plan for southern South America. Our next survey will be directed at breeding populations in Peru, Ecuador, northern Chile and Baja California.


We always like to share the results of our field research with FRG members, friends and peregrine fans. It is our way of saying thank you for your continuing support. Therefore, we will be presenting a slideshow in both Mt.Vernon (Thursday 17 January, 7 pm, Padilla Bay Center) and Seattle ( Friday 18 January, 7 pm, Center for Urban Horticulture) featuring pictures of peregrines and habitat from both Patagonia and the Falklands Islands. You are cordially invited to attend. Friends are welcome too.


Bill Clark, author of A Field Guide to Hawks, will once again present a two-day seminar on advanced hawk identification at the Padilla Bay Interpretive Center near Mt. Vernon on 9-10 February 2002. There will be a lecture with slides each morning (9am-1pm) followed by field trips on the Skagit Flats in the afternoons. Bill is the world's leading expert on raptor field identification. Over the last 20 years, he has been instrumental in pushing raptor ID to its current advanced state. This will be a rare opportunity to learn how to use your new field guides! Please note that the class is limited to intermediate to advanced hawkwatchers only.

Cost of the seminar is $100.00. To register, please contact the FRG at (360) 757-1911 or e-mail bud@frg.org.


Last fall (1 September-13 October), Mark Gleason and Bud Anderson initiated a new hawk migration study at Entiat Ridge above Leavenworth. We selected this site because it was closer to Seattle and far easier to access than Chelan Ridge, our previous banding site. The Longview Fibre Company kindly gave us permission to conduct the study on their land.

Results from the first year were encouraging. We banded a total of 217 raptors, including 137 Sharp-shinned Hawks (63%), 38 Cooper's Hawks (17%), 13 Red-tailed Hawks (6%), 12 Merlins, 10 American Kestrels, 5 Northern Harriers and 2 Northern Goshawks.

Based on these results, we have decided to continue banding at this site in 2002. We will also be expanding to several other nearby "test sites" for comparison. We hope to find another good location and eventually establish a second banding station.

The Entiat station was set up by a very dedicated group of FRG members who donated several weekends of their labor in August. Special thanks go to Martin Muller, Ed Deal, Mark Gleason, Dean Drugge and Geoff Clark. As a result of this help, we had an excellent and well-built blind with a first-ever cement slab floor, one-way glass windows, solar powered solenoid bow-net releases and plenty of working space. We expect a visit from Martha Stewart next year.

Perhaps most importantly, we were able to provide a good opportunity for our volunteers to learn how to safely capture and band migrant hawks. With this more productive site, there were more birds to work with and people got to practice their skills with greater frequency. And, of course, everyone learned that fall migration is the perfect place to learn your accipiters.

We will be holding another fall migration hawk class in August. If you are interested in joining the fall banding team, please stay tuned.


Our annual Hawk Count will be held on Saturday, 16 February, 2002. Hawk counters, please mark this date in your calendars. As usual, the erudite Bob Merrick will coordinate the count. To participate, please contact Bob via e-mail at tinekasfam@aol.com or call him at (360) 678-3161.

Pat Little tells me that ALL of our Skagit winter census data are now on the Nature Conservancy database (thank you TNC!) and we hope to have copies available soon for everyone. If you have not seen the graphic display, it is absolutely beautiful. I will see if I can have one at the post-count meeting at Padilla.


Several of you have been asking about the upcoming hawkwatching classes. I will be teaching four this winter, the usual ones in Seattle, Mt. Vernon and Bellingham and a new one in Kirkland for the eastside hawkwatchers. Here are the dates.

Location Dates Cost

1. Padilla Bay Center, Mt. Vernon Wed., 9 January-13 February $135.00

2. Whatcom Museum, Bellingham Tues., 15 January-12 February $135.00

3. Center for Urb. Hort., Seattle Fri., 8 February-8 March $135.00

4. Kirkland (February dates and location to be announced-call for info) $135.00

To reserve your space for a class, please send a check for $135.00 to the FRG, Box 248, Bow, WA, 98232. For questions, call Bud at (360) 757-1911 or e-mail at bud@frg.org.


One of the most pleasing elements of hawk banding occurs when we receive a band return. It is always fun and informative to mine these bits of information for an understanding of the movements of a particular bird. It gives us a snapshot of its life. The gradual accumulation of returns over the years lets us gain a clearer understanding of what these hawks do, where they go, how long they live and what happens to them.

We'd like to share our most recent returns with all of you and hope you enjoy them as much as we do. As you can see, quite a few came in so far this year.

Peregrine Falcons

  1. A huge female nestling banded by Marty Daniels on 2 June 2001 in the San Juan Islands was found dead less than two miles from the nest on 15 August. This one did not get far. A friend of Matt Klope's found the falcons leg with a band on a beach!
  2. Another San Juan female banded on 2 June 2001 by Bud Anderson was caught and released on the Long Beach Peninsula on 22 September 2001 by Dan Varland. Several of the San Juan birds are now showing up along the outer coast in fall.
  3. Yet another San Juan nestling banded on 9 June 2001 by David Hancock was found at Brooks, Oregon, near Salem, on 22 September 2001. This one was apparently headed down the interior Willamette Valley route.
  4. One of the 4 Tacoma eyasses banded on 30 May 2001 was found dead under a power pole at Westport, WA, sometime in July or August 2001. The coast once again seems to attract or concentrate our local peregrines.
  5. Dan Logen observed one of the Seattle eyasses that we banded on 24 May 2000. She was perched on the big smokestack at Stanwood on 25 November 2001. Nice to know this adult bird made it and is hanging around the area.
  6. Roger Orness re-sighted an adult banded as an eyass in the San Juans on 30 May 1999. He first found it 2 years ago wintering near Emerald Downs (Auburn), on 29 December 1999. He saw it again this fall on 16 October.
  7. Roger re-sighted yet another adult bird that was banded as an eyass in the San Juans on 12 June 1999. He first saw this bird at the Kent Ponds on 24 January 2000 and again this winter on 4 November 2001. Both of these sightings demonstrate that peregrines usually winter in the same places each year. It also shows what a great observer Roger is. Thanks Roger.
  8. Bird number three for Roger (!) was an immature bird banded this summer as a nestling on 25 May, 2001, again in the San Juans, and observed at the "magnetic" Kent Ponds on 22 July 2001 only about a month after fledging from its nest. We were all surprised it could go so far in such a short time after fledging.
  9. Another San Juan eyass banded on 5 June 2000 by Bud Anderson was caught and released at the Long Beach Peninsula by Tracy Fleming on 16 November 2001. The late date suggests that this falcon is wintering there. Yet another coastal falcon.
  10. Ospreys

  11. Of the 45 Osprey nestlings Ed Schulz and Bud Anderson banded last summer in Everett Harbor, four have been reported already. All of them were local returns, three from the Marysville area and another from Port Gardiner Bay. All were recovered in August and September. These returns illustrate the mortality that begins among raptors soon after fledging, almost 10% of the Everett banded birds thus far.


Anacortes Telescope is one of our favorite stores. It is a local business located in Skagit County at the Swinomish Channel on Hwy 20. They specialize in optical gear. It is great to be able to go there and check out new items when they come in. The owners, Herb and Paula York, have become good friends over the years and we really enjoy doing whatever we can to support them.

On Sunday, 3 February, they will be sponsoring a free optics presentation by Clay Taylor, the national representative for Swarovski products. Clay is a fascinating guy and has banded hawks on the East Coast for many years. The store will open at 10 am Sunday for two hours to the public. Around noon, we will travel over to the West 90 on the Samish Flats for two hours to demonstrate a variety of scopes and binoculars in the field. After this, we will return to the store. Our banding crew will be trapping that day and I am asking that they bring some birds by the West 90 for you to see.

I wanted to recommend this seminar to anyone interested in optics or hawks. Support these guys whenever you can.


We are currently working with Sea-Tac biologist, Steve Osmek, studying 5 pairs of adult Red-tailed Hawks that nest around the perimeter of the airport. At present, we have radio transmitters on 5 individual hawks with four more to go. We will also be tagging an adult peregrine that inhabits the area.

We are looking for 2-3 FRG volunteers that would like to join this study. Duties would include monitoring the hawks for one day a week during the winter. You will be introduced to the Sea-Tac area, be trained in radio-telemetry techniques and help document hawk activity around the field. If you are interested in this project, please call Bud at (360) 757-1911.


Last winter, while teaching one of my hawk classes, a student apparently took a number of the books that I display for the rest of the class members. I did not notice this act until much later as it never occurred to me that someone would do this. I am assuming that this person, whomever it might be, is now reading this newsletter. I'd like to respectfully ask that you please return them to me (no questions asked) as I need them for my work. Some of them are irreplaceable. And more importantly, I'd like you to have a clear conscience while you engage and enjoy these birds. Thanks.


Thanks to all of you that are supporting the FRG by sending in your annual dues. We really appreciate it. If you have sent them in, you will have a GOLD STAR right here.

If you haven't, well, what's stopping you?

If you have enjoyed this newsletter and like what we do, go ahead and send in $25.00 to the FRG, Box 248, Bow, WA 98232. Thank you very much. And Happy New Year.

~~ Thank you for your support! ~~