Friday, March 09, 2007

Nest Hunting with Melinda

Today was one of those days that hold me up, make me look around and think, "You know, life is pretty good."
Melinda, a RAPTOR volunteer, board trustee, rehabber, etc, took the girls and me out to do some hunting for red-shouldered hawk nests. They have been monitoring nests and banded RS for about 10 years now, and I had NOT IDEA how many were in my neighborhood. We found two that have been monitored in the past, and I actually found a new one!
How hard is it to find an RS nest? Easy, when you know where to look and what they look like:

Paxton nest
The "O'Bannon" nest...about 1/10th of a mile from our house!
You look for a bunch of sticks stuck in the crotch of a large tree, in an area that is near a creek or other body of water. And then, to determine if it is an active nest, you look for fresh, green branches. If you squint, you can make out the green in all these nests.

Raccoon trap
Near the first nest, we found a trap, probably set for raccoons.

O'Bannon nest
Nest #2...the "Paxton" nest. Also very near our house. This is the one I found. Yay for me!
Nisbet nest
This one is right along the "Loveland Bike Trail".
"Nisbet" nest.
Blastin' Melinda

Melinda "blasted" a recording of rowdy, hormonal red-shouldereds to attract some birds to come in so that we could check them for bands.
Cover your ears!
Cover your ears, girls!
We got to ride in Melinda's mini-van, and the girls are in love with it. It has "magic" doors that open and close by themselves. Well, you press a button, but the girls were sooooo impressed.
Does this mean I have to buy a mini-van?
Female red-shouldered hawk at Nisbet nest
We got some nice, close views of the pair of RS at the bike trail.
This female came in for a landing after lots of aerial acrobatics with the male and lots of screaming.
And she was about to get NAILED.
I didn't get any pictures of them doing the deed, because I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. I had never seen HOT RAPTOR ACTION before!
As we were standing there, a woman walking on the trail asked what we were looking at. Melinda explained, and the woman said that she was going to a "bird of prey" presentation in Mason, Ohio tomorrow. I smiled and said, "That's going to be me!".
Small world!

Here's a video of Melinda blasting for sure that your PC speakers aren't turned up too loud.


Mary said...

I played that video 4 times! I loved this! Susan, this ia a great post. I've seen many nests you described. This is a great lesson for me and I hope to reap a lot of benefits from it in the coming months.

The way you incorporated your girls into this post is so sweet. They are so spirited (like you). This is a great example of mother/daughter quality time.

Thanks to Melinda, too.

LauraHinNJ said...

Oh! I just played that and Boomer and Cricket scattered to their hidey box!

Sounds like a cool day! Wish I were so lucky finding nests.

John said...

I have only ever found one RSHA nest. It was pretty well concealed, but the screaming gave it away. Like the ones that you photographed, it was in the crotch of a tree, well-hidden by foliage. Unfortunately, no hot raptor action was going on at the time.

It's great that your girls are getting a taste of birding. Exposure to the outdoors at an early age should mean a lifetime of appreciation of the wild. How much are they absorbing?

Liza Lee Miller said...

Very cool, post, Susan! I love that small world moment. Very cool.

Lynne said...

I just played your video and our bunny Buddy shot under the bed and is thumping like the dickens!! RSH screams are not a nice sound when you're a prey animal!!
Terrific post again!

NatureWoman said...

Oh Oh, I've seen nests like that before!! I'll be looking more closely next time. Thanks for the continued education Susan!
The video is very cool. Melinda sounds like a cool lady to hang out with!
I held my breath as you were talking about the mini-van, phew, glad you're soooo not going to get one. Yuck, ew, puke!
HEY, I want video of that HOT RAPTOR action! I wanna see those big birds getting it on!

mon@rch said...

Susan, I just love the video and hope to see more of it in the future! Were the RSHA nest already decorated with their green's? Our RSHA's should be just starting to return!! Now that you know where they are at, I hope you can keep us updated on their success!