Ever since I was told that University of California Santa Cruz had a raptor banding program, I pay more attention to the legs of any raptors I see.
On November 10, while walking in Bethany Curve near West Cliff, I saw a young Red-tailed Hawk. When I downloaded the photos, I saw that the hawk was banded.
I was only able to see one clear digit of the purple band, so I haven’t tried to report it to the Bird Banding Lab.
Nine days later, while walking near Neary Lagoon, Katherine and I spotted another young Red-tailed Hawk. We saw immediately that it was also banded.
I could clearly see the red band with the number 70 inscribed in white (see photo above). I was also able to see some of the numbers from the aluminum band (see photo below).
I reported the bands to the Bird Banding Lab. The very next day, I received a Certificate of Appreciation. I learned that the bird was hatched and banded in 2021 near Santa Cruz. The bird was banded by a wildlife biologist working for Swaim Biological Inc.
Until I began reporting banded birds, I’d always assumed that governments and universities were doing nearly all the banding. But, the two birds that I’ve gotten information about were both banded by private businesses.
This may sound morbid, but if you come across a dead bird, look for a tag. If the number is visible, make sure to report it. (And, of course, we know from a previous post that this doesn’t apply to New World Vultures — like Turkey Vultures and California Condors.)