A studio for bird study

Tag: nestling

Rough-legged Hawk Nestlings

by Bryce W. Robinson

Rough-legged Hawk Nestlings

I was surprised the first time I saw the proximity of nesting Rough-legged Hawk and Gyrfalcon. It was my first summer in Alaska. I was along the Dalton Highway peering through a scope at an incubating white Gyrfalcon. Only 100 meters down the cliffside was an incubating Rough-legged Hawk. Now that I’ve gained an in depth experience with cliff nesting birds of the Arctic, I see why these birds tolerate one another. There simply aren’t enough locations to be choosy.

These eyes were watching me as I pulled out one of my Gyrfalcon nest cameras the other day. This is on the extreme end of Gyrfalcon – Rough-legged Hawk nest proximity. These nests are only about 10 meters apart, and given that these young Roughies are about to fledge, they will both be successful. Almost every cliff I’ve worked in this summer has had a nesting Rough-legged Hawk pair. Some cliffs have had two, along with nesting Raven and Cackling Goose (yes, they nest in cliff nests often). Real estate is limited, so all suitable sites are usually occupied given enough food in the area.

Rough-legged Hawks are a favorite. I gained a familiarity with them during past winters in Utah, and it was always a dream of mine to see them on their breeding grounds. Each time I’m around a nest, I remember my current place and business in life, something that is not to be taken for granted. I’m living a personal dream, and I’m happy.


Using Nest Cameras to Monitor Gyrfalcon Diet

by Bryce W. Robinson

Gyrfalcon Nest with Camera

While I’ve been sharing images and stories from Alaska concerning my work with Gyrfalcons, I’ve neglected to share any aspect of the work that has brought me here. I chose the image above to provide insight into the idea behind The Gyrfalcon Project. In the past month, Neil Paprocki and I have installed 6 motion sensor cameras in Gyrfalcon nests to monitor their diet during the nestling period. This information will give us a better idea of how changes in the system will impact the ability of these birds to reproduce. 6 cameras is a good start for the project, but I am capable of outfitting four more nests with cameras this season. The issue is access, and at the moment I’m scrambling to formulate a plan to put out the final four and round out the season with ten total cameras gathering valuable data of nesting Gyrfalcons. I’ll keep interested readers updated regarding our success. Please feel free to comment about questions, ideas, concerns, or general queries. I’ll do my best to respond when I’m able.  And the Gyrfalcon beat goes on!

New to the World, The Pectoral Sandpiper

by Bryce W. Robinson

IMG_7083 copy

I know I’ve promised photos of the chicks I’ve seen on the tundra, and have yet to share anything. I’ll admit, photographing these little things is a lot more challenging than I had imagined. They seem to never stop moving, and if you don’t keep a keen eye trained to them at all times, they hunker under some grass, no longer to be seen.

I have had a bit of luck, mainly with chicks that are a bit older. One thing I like about looking at lone chicks, is the exercise of identifying the bird. It is a bit tricky, but it forces you to pay attention to certain helpful traits, and ignore body plumage altogether. The first thing I noticed about the young Pectoral Sandpiper pictured above, is the distinctive bill. Pale at the base, dark at the tip, with a slight down curve, thinning at the end. Obviously a Pec!