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 YVR (Vancouver) Raptor Trapping - Fraser Valley Sightings
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By: karenbills (offline) on Thursday, November 12 2015 @ 05:58 PM EST (Read 632 times)  

On Monday, Nov. 9/2015, the Delta 2 eagle nest had a visiting red-tailed hawk as seen in the screenshot posted in the discussion forum thread for Delta 2 here:


Click on image to download

Video of the 30 second stay can be found here:

I immediately sent the screenshot and video to David Hancock for his opinion on who this visiting bird might be. He then quickly contacted Kristine Kirkby at the Vancouver airport (YVR) where the bird tagging program has been ongoing in an effort to prevent airplanes striking birds. Here is David's answer to me:

Karen: Here is a report from Gary Searing on the red-tail 'X9' that visited our Delta 2 nest please post. Perhaps we could give a whole thread to people following red-tailed hawks etc. that are marked. This might encourage people to record these sightings to Gary.

It is interesting to note that Kristine Kirkby, the young lady who was one of the climbers who helped install the two cams at Delta 2 (and last year installed the two cams at Delta 3), is also one of the banders at Gary Searing's airport raptor trapping study. She found it extraordinary for her group to have trapped birds at YVR and then found one of them attempting to nest in the very artificial nest we built and where she helped install the live cams! Don't forget that the Delta 2 eagle nest was originally a red-tail nest back in the 90s!

This Vancouver Airport Raptor Banding Project reports on the red-tailed hawk we observed on our Delta 2 bald eagle nest cam. Here is Gary Searing's report on the banding and earlier movements of this red-tail with the tag X9.

Letter to David: (From Gary Searing)

Thank you for reporting your sighting of X9. These sightings are very important to the success of my tagging program. And it is pretty cool that you were able to catch her on the eagle nest you are watching. Obviously playing house for her next (and likely her first) nesting season.

I tagged her as a Second Year bird at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on 10 August 2015 and released it the next day in Chilliwack, BC as part of a program to prevent raptors from being struck by aircraft. X9 returned to YVR on 17 August 2015 and has been seen 22 times there between then and the end of September (I have not yet received the sighting data for October). Therefore it is interesting to note that this bird has left YVR at least temporarily.

Let me provide you with some information on the program so you understand a bit more why we are doing this:

YVR began a program of trapping and removing Red-tailed Hawks and Rough-legged Hawks in October 2010 in order to prevent them from being struck by aircraft primarily to improve air safety, but also as a raptor conservation tool. Each year the airport has a large number of transient raptors that winter at YVR as well as resident adults and local-raised young birds. Based on information from SeaTac International Airport in Washington, we expect that adult residents are least likely to be involved in collisions with aircraft, but a significant number of young birds and transient birds are struck each year. Therefore, we are attempting to remove those birds from the airport environs by capturing them and releasing them just beyond Chilliwack where there is ample habitat and a reasonable likelihood that they will not return to YVR. I view this not only as an air safety program, but also as a raptor conservation program because, if successful, we may prevent the deaths of dozens or more birds each year. We expanded the program in 2013 to all raptors (including owls). To date we have captured and relocated over 500 birds. Most of them were relocated to Chilliwack. To date there has been more than 4000 resightings of my tagged and banded birds. While most of those sightings are of birds that have returned to YVR, there have been over 125 sightings of 64 different birds away from Sea-Iona Islands by over 90 observers who are not part of the YVR wildlife management team.

We are wing-tagging Red-tailed Hawks because we need to know who our resident birds are and are co-operating in a joint program with SeaTac and Portland International airports all of whom are wing tagging airport Red-tailed Hawks (using different colours for the tag material). Not only is this program contributing to air safety, we are already learning a great deal about our raptors and hope to learn much more as the years pass. To date less than 1/3 of the captured Red-tailed Hawks, mostly resident adult birds or long-term wintering residents, have returned to the airport. Less than 20% of the very hazardous juvenile birds have returned. Several of our birds have been seen in Washington State and as far south as Oregon and we have had a few birds from Washington State come to YVR. We have had one sighting of a tagged Red-tailed Hawk near Kamloops. Of considerable interest is a Rough-legged Hawk tagged at YVR in November 2014, moved to Chilliwack 100 km east of YVR, that returned to Delta, about 15 km south of YVR and spent the winter there - seen frequently on the same light standard all winter long. Then he showed up in Cawston, B.C. on 13 May 2015 (250 km east of YVR) and was seen the next time in Ronan, Montana on 2 November 2015 (another 450 km southeast of Cawston and 700 km southeast of YVR). In addition we have captured:

24 American Kestrels
2 Bald Eagles
215 Barn Owls (only a few have returned)
60 Cooper's Hawks
20 Great Horned Owls
2 Merlins
1 Northern Harrier
3 Peregrine Falcons
177 Red-tailed Hawks
15 Rough-legged Hawks of which 3 have returned to YVR
2 Sharp-shinned Hawks
4 Short Eared Owls (1 returned)
2 Snowy Owls (1 returned)
Raptors are one of the major strike risks at YVR and we believe that we are mitigating that risk significantly through the capture and relocation of raptors.

It is through the sightings of many interested persons such as yourself that we are able to collect the essential information on bird movements and distribution and learn how well the measures we are using to manage wildlife at the airport and elsewhere are working.

Thank you for your cooperation and your interest. Feel free to contact me for more information or with any sighting information.


Gary Searing

The reason David asked me to start this forum thread is in the hope that our members and his volunteers will use this space to report their findings when tagged birds are spotted in the Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley area.

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By: ostrich (offline) on Sunday, November 29 2015 @ 06:42 PM EST  

I can't contribute to any Vancouver/Fraser Valley sightings unfortunately, but we did have a very similar situation several weeks ago at Hawk Hill - this young red-tailed hawk landed in the large oak tree which is along Hawk Hill. Visits from the resident adults and their young in this tree during the fall are not at all uncommon, but this bird was not a resident bird or progeny, as indicated by the red #64 band on its right leg. When I took this picture on Oct 11 this bird had been sighted around High Park for at least a week or so, actively hunting and without any apparent conflict with the residents. This bird was trapped at Pearson airport as part of the bird mitigation activity there, and relocated off the airport property. At some point it presumably made its way to High Park (which is approx 8-10km from Pearson as the hawk flies).

Unfortunately compared to X9 there was relatively few specifics available on exactly the time and date of relocation and banding, as here the bands are used only to track returns to the airport, sightings of the birds are not specifically tracked or recorded elsewhere.

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By: karenbills (offline) on Monday, November 30 2015 @ 05:13 PM EST  

Thanks, Ian. Interesting comparison to our situation here.

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