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By: Caleb Hansen

Every time a hawk trapper pulls a trigger their entire being vibrantly soars. While careful not to trip over any lure lines laced across the ground, their gaze on the present gift wrapped by the bow is laser sharp. I personally like to slide in like I’m stealing 2nd base on an especially exciting catch like this one. I had just recently caught a different adult Red-tailed Hawk…

…so my amazement when this second one fell into my trap was way over the top.

Red-tailed hawk with wings and tail spread being held by raptor bander
Red-tailed Hawk originally banded August 2019 in Marin County, CA then re-captured at Boise Peak banding research station in Boise, ID September 2020

Hawk trapping’s primary scientific utility is for discovering all the different ways these birds disperse throughout their lifetimes. Imagine being kicked out of your parents house the instant you’re physically capable of providing for yourself, and to add on top of that, it’s highly recommended that you move as far as possible. That’s essentially how every intrepid hawk starts it’s new life as an autonomous individual.

A metal and plastic identification band on the left and right leg of a raptor
The unique identifying band numbers on a Red-tailed Hawk that allowed researchers to track it from it’s original banding location in Marin County, CA to it’s recapture location in Boise, ID

It’s up to us to imagine how birds move from point “A” to point “B”, with “A” being birth and “B” being death.

It’s my humble pleasure to help humans understand what they’re trying to imagine with truly spectacular instances like when I catch a bird from California a whole year later in Idaho! The makings of unadulterated dreams.