It was a 3 and a half day class and it covered everything from trapping & banding raptors to ascending tall trees to performing habitat surveys. Above pictured is our group for the September 2009 session (Me & Red-tail, Tim, Dave, Walt & Cooper's Hawk). I was the youngest there and the only girl. At first I wasn't too surprised about that since raptors are kind of macho birds. But our instructor, Gene Jacobs, actually said it wasn't too typical, and usually they get more women and more college-age participants in the classes. Either way, being the only girl definitely didn't mean I had to be protected from the fierce, taloned birds of prey. I got hands-on experience with two Red-tailed Hawks and an American Kestrel. Oh, and this was my absolute first time working with raptors!
My favorite was the Kestrel (an adult female). I love the falcon "helmet" or "side burns," that they have, very cute.
In order to calm the raptors and keep them from flapping while we band and take measurements, we would use coffee cans to secure them. Just look at those tail feathers. This hawk had two generations of red feathers, meaning it was at least 3 years old.
Overall we caught four birds, 2 Red-tails, a Kestrel, and Cooper's Hawk. After the banding, weighing and measuring, we let them go! It was definitely a fun time, and working with raptors was an awesome experience. Even though they are powerful birds perfectly designed to tear open flesh with razor-sharp talons and bill, they really are not all that scary. I hope I get a chance to work with raptors again, we'll see!