Notes from the Field (Spring 2013):

Date: May 31, 2013
Location: 5 miles south of the mouth of the Yaquina River and Newport, Oregon.
Observers: Dan Varland, Will Dixon, Larry Warwick, Garth Herring and John Pierce.

Setting up the net launcher next to the sea lion carcass.
We got out before first light, during vulture sleepy time, and set up the net launcher next to the sea lion carcass.
Will Dixon photo.



L to R: Larry Warwick, Dan Varland, Garth Herring and John Pierce.
Will Dixon photo.


Garth, John and Dan attach the driftwood cover to the net launcher.
Garth, John and Dan attach the driftwood cover to the net launcher.
Will Dixon photo.


Dan Varland working on a laptop computer
After we set the trap and before vultures started to arrive, I showed a video clip by Pete Bloom on how to attach wing tags. The video was a refresher for me but was something new for the rest of the crew. In particular, Garth Herring wanted to learn the procedure in order to get authorization from the federal Bird Banding Lab to apply wing tags on his own.
Will Dixon photo.


John Pierce with BB, one of two turkey vultures we captured, tagged and tissue-sampled.
John Pierce with BB, one of two turkey vultures we captured, tagged and tissue-sampled.
Dan Varland photo.


Close up vulture head
BB up close.
Dan Varland photo.


Close up of a vulture talon
BB had a toe injury, which had healed.
Dan Varland photo.


Weighing vulture in a sling
Will Dixon records data as Garth (left) and John get the weight of the captured bird. Larry Warwick looks on.
Dan Varland photo.


Garth Herring with AS.
Garth Herring with AS.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: May 30, 2013
Location: 5 miles south of the mouth of the Yaquina River and Newport, Oregon.
Observers: Dan Varland, Will Dixon and Larry Warwick

Turkey vultures at a Stellar sea lion.
Turkey vultures at a Stellar sea lion. Jim Rice of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network let me know that this carcass had washed up and that vultures were feeding there.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: May 24, 2013
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Dan Miller, and Ellen Sweetin

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
7 adults,
3 juveniles
3 adults


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon H/5


A one-year-old male Peregrine Falcon
A one-year-old male Peregrine Falcon that we captured and color banded with H/5 during today's survey. Note that the molt to the blue-gray plumage of adult peregrines is far from complete in this individual, which is how we know his age.
Dan Varland photo.


Peregrine Falcon leg bands.
H/5's leg bands.
Dan Varland photo.


Peregrine Falcon
H/5.
Dan Varland photo.


Peregrine Falcon
H/5.
Dan Varland photo.


Eroded beach
These “Geotubes” were buried in place more than 10 years ago to protect the residences from the sea. Unfortunately the pounding surf of the last few months has left them exposed.
Dan Varland photo.





Date: May 5, 2013
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Tom Rowley, Suzy Whittey, and Suzanne Staples

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle
2 adults


Beach crowded with visitors
The south half of the Long Beach Peninsula was full of people enjoying the day's wonderful weather. Needless to say, we saw few birds other than gulls along this stretch of the beach.
Tom Rowley photo.


Bald Eagle perched on sand with water in background
Adult Bald Eagle perches next to a creek.
Tom Rowley photo.


Shore bird on sand with long curved beak
Wimbrel.
Tom Rowley photo.


three shorebirds on sand with dunes in background.
Black-bellied Plover.
Tom Rowley photo.


Raven on sand with shorebird and water in background
Common Raven.
Tom Rowley photo.


Raven flying above dunes
Common Raven.
Tom Rowley photo.


Gull-like birds with black caps and bright orange beaks.
Caspian Terns, one of which was banded!
Tom Rowley photo.


Tern with close up of banded legs in superimposed photo
This tern was banded in 2008 on East Sand Island near the mouth of the Columbia River. Caspian Terns are banded at several locations on the Columbia to learn more about their biology, given their propensity to feed on salmon smolts. Suzy Whittey, who was on today's survey, found out where the tern was banded for us by reporting the band information online to http://www.birdresearchnw.org/.
Tom Rowley photo.





Date: May 1, 2013
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Trish Safstrom, Ellen Sweetin and Dale Larson

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Northern Harrier
8 adults,
4 juveniles
1 adult 1


Photographer inside car with WA State Parks logo on door
Thanks to Ellen Sweetin, pictured here, for sharing her wonderful photos from today's survey.
Dan Varland photo.


Adult Peregrine Falcon feeding on a shorebird.
Adult Peregrine Falcon feeding on a shorebird.
Ellen Sweetin photo.


Woman in bright yellow pants walking with waves in background.
Greater yellowlegs!
Ellen Sweetin photo.


Adult Bald Eagle.
Adult Bald Eagle.
Ellen Sweetin photo.


3-year old Bald Eagle.
3-year old Bald Eagle.
Ellen Sweetin photo.


Bald Eagle landing.
3-year old landing.
Ellen Sweetin photo.


Bald Eagle landing.
2-year old Bald Eagle landing.
Ellen Sweetin photo.


2 Eagles perched on sand
The 2-year-old was perched on what looked to us, and to the 3-year-old at right, like food.
Ellen Sweetin photo.


Driftwood punctured with small holes
After the eagles left, we discovered that the younger bird had been perched on a small piece of driftwood.
Dan Varland photo.





Date: April 21, 2013
Location: Ocean Shores
Participants: Dan Varland, Tom Rowley, Sandra Miller, and Mary O'Neil
Comments: We captured two one-year-old Peregrine Falcons during today's survey.

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Merlin
2 adults,
3 juveniles
2 1


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon C/7


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon R/5


Newly applied bands to a 1-year-old female Peregrine Falcon.
Newly applied bands to a 1-year-old female Peregrine Falcon.
Dan Varland photo.


Sandra Miller with C/7.
Sandra Miller with C/7.
Dan Varland photo.


C/7 - some brown feathers can be seen here in this view of her back.
We were able to identify C/7 as age 1 because she still retained some brown feathers of the juvenile plumage; some can be seen here in this view of her back.
Dan Varland photo.


Brown feathers are also still visible on C/7's head.
Brown feathers are also still visible on C/7's head.
Dan Varland photo.


C/7, one beautiful bird!
C/7, one beautiful bird!
Dan Varland photo.


Sandra Miller releases C/7.
Sandra Miller releases C/7.
Dan Varland photo.



Video of the release of C/7.
Dan Varland video.


The second Peregrine Falcon we captured was R/5.
The second Peregrine Falcon we captured was R/5, an individual that Don and Dalene Edgar, Mike Walker and I initially captured and banded on November 4, 2011.
Tom Rowley photo.


We usually don't feel the need to wear gloves when handling peregrines, but R/5 was a biter! Just before we captured her, she had chased three bald eagles away from her prey.
We usually don't feel the need to wear gloves when handling peregrines, but R/5 was a biter! Just before we captured her, she had chased three bald eagles away from her prey. She was not a happy camper when we stepped into the picture and picked her up!
Tom Rowley photo.


R/5 has one of the most unique plumages I've seen in coastal peregrine.
R/5 did not retain brown feathers in her plumage as had C/7 of the same age. Timing of molt can vary among individuals. Moreover, R/5 has one of the most unique plumages I've seen in coastal peregrine.
Tom Rowley photo.


Take a look at this photo of R/5 when she was caught as a juvenile on November 4, 2011. Her plumage did not contain brown feathers even then. We identified her as a juvenile at the time by the lack of a yellow cere and eye ring.
Take a look at this photo of R/5 when she was caught as a juvenile on November 4, 2011. Her plumage did not contain brown feathers even then. We identified her as a juvenile at the time by the lack of a yellow cere and eye ring.
Mike Walker photo.


Here you can see the yellow cere (at base of beak) and eye rings on R/5.
Here you can see the yellow cere (at base of beak) and eye rings on R/5.
Tom Rowley photo.


Bonapart's Gull with an injury to the back of its head. It's possible a peregrine got ahold of this individual, given that falcons first attack this part of the body once they get their prey on the ground.
Bonapart's Gull with an injury to the back of its head. It's possible a peregrine got ahold of this individual, given that falcons first attack this part of the body once they get their prey on the ground.
Tom Rowley photo.


We don't think this gull felt too well, given that it did a lot more walking than flying with our approach.
We don't think this gull felt too well, given that it did a lot more walking than flying with our approach.
Tom Rowley photo.


White-fronted Geese heading north this morning.
White-fronted Geese heading north this morning.
Tom Rowley photo.


Marbled Godwit.
Marbled Godwit.
Tom Rowley photo.


Marbled Godwits foraging.
Marbled Godwits foraging.
Tom Rowley photo.





Date: March 19, 2013
Location: City of Hoquiam Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Participants: Dan Varland, Tom Rowley, Don Edgar, Larry Warwick, Adam Hoxit and Al Gregory.



Comments: We fixed a Peregrine Falcon nest box to the top of a platform at the city of Hoquiam Wastewater Treatment Plan.


city of Hoquiam Wastewater Treatment Plant personnel erected a nest platform for Ospreys
Before the 2010 nesting season, city of Hoquiam Wastewater Treatment Plant personnel erected a nest platform for Ospreys next to the wastewater treatment pond. Osprey had been nesting on the crossbeams of a telephone pole several hundred yards away on Port of Grays Harbor property along Paulson Road. That pole broke and the nest was lost during a winter storm in 2009-10. Upon their return from nesting, the treatment plant crew offered Ospreys a new, sturdier location for nesting.
Tom Rowley photo.


Another view of the Osprey nest platform, sans Osprey.
Another view of the Osprey nest platform, sans Osprey.
Tom Rowley photo.



Ospreys perched on the platform. However, they chose not to nest there. This may have been because they were intimidated by local Bald Eagles.
Tom Rowley photo.


in 2010 Ospreys decided to build a nest on a telephone pole
Instead of using the Wastewater Treatment Plant Platform, in 2010 Ospreys decided to build a nest on a telephone pole next to the one that broke along Paulson Road. They nested here in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I expect them back at this location in 2013.
Tom Rowley photo.


Osprey nest building along Paulson Road in 2010.
Osprey nest building along Paulson Road in 2010.
Tom Rowley photo.


Osprey nest building along Paulson Road in 2010.
Osprey nest building along Paulson Road in 2010.
Tom Rowley photo.


An adult Osprey calls from the nest in 2010.
An adult Osprey calls from the nest in 2010.
Tom Rowley photo.


Bald Eagles perch in the trees adjacent to the platform
Bald Eagles perch in the trees adjacent to the platform from time to time. Less frequently, one will perch on the platform.
Tom Rowley photo.


Red-tailed Hawk on the platform.
Red-tailed Hawk on the platform.
Tom Rowley photo.


Peregrine Falcons like to perch on the platform too.
Peregrine Falcons like to perch on the platform too.
Tom Rowley photo.


The platform is a great vantage point for searching for prey.
The platform is a great vantage point for searching for prey.
Tom Rowley photo.


A raptor's eye view from the platform, looking east.
A raptor's eye view from the platform, looking east. Peregrines like to feed on waterfowl and small birds; there are plenty in the area.
Dan Varland photo.


sometimes two Peregrine Falcons were observed perching on the platform.
In February and March 2013, one and sometimes two Peregrine Falcons were observed perching on the platform.
Tom Rowley photo.


Time for a Peregrine Falcon nest box atop that platform!
Time for a Peregrine Falcon nest box atop that platform!
Dan Varland photo.


Wastewater Treatment Plant Lead Operator Al Gregory.
Wastewater Treatment Plant Lead Operator Al Gregory. Al gave Coastal Raptors permission to place nest a box on the Osprey nest platform.
Tom Rowley photo.


Osprey nest platform.
The Osprey nest platform.
Tom Rowley photo.


A raptor pellet atop the platform.
A raptor pellet atop the platform.
Tom Rowley photo.


Our nest box was built by Don Edgar of Ocean Shores.
Our nest box was built by Don Edgar of Ocean Shores.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Don and his son Nicholas with the box and its first resident.
Don and his son Nicholas with the box and its first resident.
Dalene Edgar photo.


Don attaches the Coastal Raptors logo and a speed limit sign to our box.
Don attaches the Coastal Raptors logo and a speed limit sign to our box.
We wouldn't want our peregrines crashing into their box, would we?
Dan Varland photo.



While Don built the box Larry Warwick (right) found us pea gravel for the box floor in Tacoma. We couldn't find the diameter-size we needed locally. Peregrines don't bring nesting material to their nest sites. Pea gravel provides a secure substrate for the eggs.
Tom Rowley photo.


Willis Industries generously provided this man-lift and their operator Adam Hoxit.
For nest box placement, Willis Industries generously provided this man-lift and their operator Adam Hoxit.
Tom Rowley photo.


Adam and I go up with the box.
Adam and I go up with the box.
Tom Rowley photo.



Tom Rowley photo.


Adam operated the man-lift AND secured the box to the nest platform.
Adam operated the man-lift AND secured the box to the nest platform.
Dan Varland photo.


What a day!
What a day!


Adam and I loaded more than 220 pounds of pea gravel into the nest box.
Adam and I loaded more than 220 pounds of pea gravel into the nest box.
Tom Rowley photo.


View from above.
View from above.
Dan Varland photo.


View to the west.
View to the west.
Dan Varland photo.


We have finished our work. Now all we need are the star attractions to set up house-keeping.... Stay tuned!
We have finished our work. Now all we need are the star attractions to set up house-keeping.... Stay tuned!
Tom Rowley photo.




Date: March 3, 2013
Beach: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Kim Middleton, Wayne Munich, Dan Miller, Sandra Miller, Dave Murnen, Kate Davis, Rob Palmer and Nick Dunlop.

Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Gyrfalcon 8
Peregrine Falcon W/Z



Gyrfalcon! We don't see many of these during our surveys, and we capture even fewer. The highlight of the day, in fact the highlight of the year so far, was re-capturing this adult female. We caught her 7 years to the day of her initial capture and banding in Ocean Shores at the Oyhut Wildlife Recreation Area. She was a one-year old at the time. Today we found her about ½-mile north of the jetty at Ocean Shores. She is eight years old.
Wayne Munich photo.


Kim Middleton with Gyrfalcon 8.
Kim Middleton with Gyrfalcon 8.
Dan Varland photo.



Dave Murnen (left), Dan Miller (right) and I prepare to take feather samples from the Gyrfalcon.
Wayne Munich photo.



The Gyrfalcon had a small cataract in her left eye, which can be seen in this photo by Rob Palmer.
Rob Palmer photo.


The Gyrfalcon in flight.
The Gyrfalcon in flight.
Kate Davis photo.


Kim Middleton with W/Z, a 5-year old male Peregrine Falcon we re-captured for blood and feather samples.
Kim Middleton with W/Z, a 5-year old male Peregrine Falcon we re-captured for blood and feather samples.
Dan Varland photo.


This band has been around. It would be fascinating to know just where W/Z has been.
This band has been around. It would be fascinating to know just where W/Z has been.
Dan Varland photo.


Peregrine falcon head close up
W/Z up close.
We've had 18 re-observations of W/Z since he was banded on November 17, 2007.


Nick Dunlop (left), Kate Davis and Rob Palmer cruised the beach photographing raptors while the rest of the group did a survey.
Nick Dunlop (left), Kate Davis and Rob Palmer cruised the beach photographing raptors while the rest of the group did a survey.
Dan Varland photo.


Nick, Rob and Kate go into action as two peregrines conduct an aerial battle
Nick, Rob and Kate go into action as two peregrines conduct an aerial battle to the south. These three have published several books together, including Raptors of the West, Captured in Photographs. This award-winner is available through Coastal Raptors (contact Dan Varland), Mountain Press, and Amazon. Following are some Kate Davis photos from Ocean Shores.
Dan Varland photo.


W/Z relaxing on the beach.
W/Z relaxing on the beach.
Kate Davis photo.


W/Z stretches.
W/Z stretches.
Kate Davis photo.


W/Z takes a bath in an Ocean Shores creek.
W/Z takes a bath in an Ocean Shores creek.
Kate Davis photo.


W/Z on the march.
W/Z on the march.
Kate Davis photo.


Peregrine Falcon stoops on shorebirds.
Peregrine Falcon stoops on shorebirds.
Kate Davis photo.




Date: March 2, 2013
Beach: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Mary Kay Kenney, Tom Rowley, Kim Middleton, and Wayne Munich.

Juvenile Bald Eagle perched on driftwood - adult Bald Eagle swooping in with wings spread.
On a drizzly morning before first light, Mary Kay Kenney, Wayne Munich (with flashlight) and I set up the net launcher next to a sea lion carcass in the hope of capturing a Bald Eagle as part of the avian scavenger study.
Kim Middleton photo.


Bald Eagle landing on driftwood with wings spread
For camouflage, we covered the net launcher with rope lost from boats and washed ashore. I collected it over several months, thinking it might serve better than driftwood as a cover. While eagles perched nearby, none would come in to feed on the sea lion. That much rope in one place made them suspicious, I think. Moving forward we will go back to driftwood.
Kim Middleton photo.



Date: March 1, 2013
Beach: Ocean Shores
Observers: Mary Kay Kenney, Dave Murnen, Sandra Miller and Larry Warwick.

Raptor count:
Bald Eagle
10 adults,
6 juveniles


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Bald Eagle U/O