Red-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.