Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wandering Red-tail

Red-tailed HawkRed-tailed Hawk, Jackson Bottom Wetlands, Hillsboro, Oregon on 27 January 2010 by Greg Gillson.


Yesterday morning the Red-tailed Hawk pictured above was in the cottonwoods at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Hillsboro, Oregon. It sported bright orange patagial markers on each wing with a black 'X' as identification. As the staff at Jackson Bottom keeps close track on birds at the Preserve, we knew that it had just arrived.

Patagial tags fit over the leading edge of the wing (patagium) allowing for identification perched or in flight without having to recapture the bird.

In this case I was fairly certain that this bird had been captured at the Portland Airport to keep the bird from getting struck by aircraft. Large raptors like to hunt on the grassy strips at airports, causing a potential safety issue (for them and the passengers of any aircraft involved in a bird strike). The hawks are marked and then released at a distant site. It is not a good thing for the hawk if they return to the airport....

I contacted Carole Hallett (of Pacific Habitat Services under contract to the Port of Portland). In an email today she indicated that the bird was captured as an adult in October 2009 and released south about 60 miles at Ankeny NWR west of Salem, Oregon. It has not returned to the Portland Airport.

This morning the bird is hunting rodents at the edge of the flooded marsh.


  1. Really nice shot, Greg. I love getting reports like this! The vast majority of red-tails that I band or wing-tag are never heard from again or are reported only when they are found dead along a road somewhere. Reports of a bird seen alive and well are like gold. Thanks for the report. It made my day.
    (FYI - I work for Pacific Habitat Services under contract to the Port of Portland).

    1. Carole, I observed an imature redtail with an orange wingband T1. at my home in Benge, Washington on April 30 2013. I would lke to report it to someone. Could it be one of yours? Randy Bachman

  2. Greg when you say "it is not good for the hawk" exactly what are you saying? If this mean that they shoot the birds, I am going to claim to have finally found my calling! I will volunteer to personally transport them to further release points rather than see them eliminated. The mere thought saddens and incenses me at the same time.

  3. This gives me a little insight on a red tail hawk I spotted yesterday with wing bling in Washougal 2 miles from the river. Wing bling was an N with a dot on the top of N

  4. We have a oranged tagged redtail hawk flying around our propery in NW Forest Grove for about 2 months now. He keeps track of the fields and makes the little sparrow hawks awful unhappy.

    L. Verboort

  5. 5/22/14 we just saw this bird by Salty's restaurant, just west of the Portland airport along Marine drive.