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It’s All About Them: The Value of IBO’s Training

By: Greg Kaltenecker

It is no secret to many of IBO’s staff. As the years go by, as my body ages, as my life gets busier and busier with more and more demands on my time, I am less motivated each fall season to do the “hard” work that it takes to set up and manage the various fall raptor migration projects. It doesn’t get any easier. Actually, these projects have all grown: there are more staff, more volunteers, more equipment to set up, more to take down, more to organize, repair, and maintain throughout the season and throughout the year. I’ve banded thousands of raptors. I’ve counted raptors in dozens of places around the world. I’ve been there, and done that.

But somehow, I always seem to look forward to each fall, and can’t wait until it begins all over again. Raptor migration truly is one of my passions.

But it’s not about me. We at IBO are blessed every fall to work closely with dozens of young professional scientists, university students, and seasoned volunteers. We are truly honored to be able to share our work with thousands of people each year, so many of them children.  Hopefully, we instill a love for the outdoors and an ethic of conservation in many of them.

a male biologist stands holding a large pale hawk, with wing outstretched. A sagebrush hillside and slope with conifer trees in the background
Nick checks for molt limits on the Ferruginous Hawk he banded this season at Lucky Peak. Photo Credit: Leah Rudge

This fall was no exception, and this year I was reminded of just why we do what we do. For the first time in a while, I saw the fall migration through the lenses of others. The crew this year was excellent, and we were lucky to have a number of returning “veterans” who really helped the season run smoothly. For example, we couldn’t have asked for a better crew leader than Leah Rudge – what a privilege to have gotten to work with her! Nick Alioto and Caleb Hansen returned to lead the trapping blinds this season. Their passion for raptors was obvious. Their desire to learn was undeniable.

a biologist holds a medium sized hawk in her hand. The hawk is looking up at her and she is looking down at the hawk, smiling
Veteran Crew Lead Leah Rudge with a newly banded juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. Photo Credit: Heather Hayes

The dedication of this year’s entire crew was almost unbelievable. Their skill at banding, collecting data, and maintaining the stations was more than commendable. But what surprised me was that I could see a bit of myself in all of them. I was reminded of the days when all I could focus on was raptor banding. They didn’t want to miss a day of the season, and many on the team even continued to work on their days off. Day and night they focused on the birds, evident by the various emails and group messages sent. For me, it was uplifting to witness their passion, and it put a big smile on my face.


a young biologist stands with his arm outstretched and hand open. a red tailed hawk with wings spread flies away with an expansive blue sky and the Boise mountains in the background
Veteran Boise Peak Hawk trapper Caleb Hansen releases a Red-tailed Hawk at Boise Peak. Photo Credit: Carter Strope

The enthusiasm of these young people reminded me that “it’s all about them”.

The value of IBO is in providing opportunities for people of all ages to train, learn, and experience things they couldn’t do otherwise. For children it’s that all-important “Discovery of Nature”; for high school or university students it’s providing opportunities to do research or learn techniques; for young professionals it’s experience and training; and for adults it’s a chance to contribute to and be a part of something worthwhile. I’m so glad that I had a chance to work with this crew, and that their passion rekindled mine and reminded me of what is important.  Thank you!

a group of young biologists stand in the forest in front of a yurt
2020’s Rockstar Lucky Peak crew, Photo Credit Leah Rudge Back Row: Solai LeFay, Carly Gilmore, Savannah Stewart, Nick Alioto, Leah Rudge, Evan Buck, Sam Meigs Front Row: Sarah Scott, Lauren Whitenack, Serena Ross, Kyle Lima Photo Credit Leah Rudge

This article is part of our 2020 end of the year newsletter! View the full newsletter here, or click “older posts” below to read the next article.

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