An angry blue darter

Susan pretty much stole my thunder, but I’ll go ahead anyway and torture you with more about the Cape May Banding Project. Part of the fun in watching hawks is learning to identify them in the field. Most often we get only a fleeting glance that offers little more than a general impression of the bird’s size and shape, with little or no detail visible as it disappears into the distance.

The banding demonstrations at Cape May Point State Park offer those of us who are drawn to birds of prey the chance to see some of those details up close. Birds of prey have become a popular study among birders and there are plenty of books to help with identifying them, but can’t compare to the thrill of seeing one up close. The point of the banding demonstrations is to engage the public and generate support for the project; the purpose of the banding itself is a bit more far-reaching and long-term.

Last fall when I wrote a bit about the monarch tagging project, a commenter here questioned the ethics of tagging butterflies. I think the same criticism might be made for banding hawks if we fail to consider the importance of the science behind it. The capture of migrant hawks is routine at many hotspots throughout the world; Cape May isn’t unique in that respect, and the numbers banded through the years are quite large. The data gained can help to answer important questions about population dynamics and provide insight to understand why some species are in decline.

The name Blue Darter is an old nickname for the Cooper’s Hawk and refers to the bluish-gray on an adult hawk’s back. This cranky one is a juvenille showing the typical brownish-streaked breast and belly.

I felt about how this bird looks going back to work today until I found out that I had won $50 in the baseball pool for the World Series!

14 thoughts on “An angry blue darter”

  1. Laura–woo hoo for office pools and especially for winning.
    I love the fierce look in the hawk’s eyes. Just be glad we are not the rodents in his view!

  2. Woooo! Wow! That’s an angry hawk! Congrats on that winning, Laura. I don’t even know who is in it this year :o/

    Oh, well. Great photo of the Coop.

  3. KGMom: This hawk is a bird-eater, but I get your point. Coops are insane and you can see that clearly in this one’s eyes!

    I’m sure they must be more than a little frightened to be surrounded by so many people there to see the demo.

    Mary: I was surprised to win. My coworkers are teasing me that I have to buy them all breakfast now.

    Jean: Yep, thanks. Beginner’s luck, you know.

    Jayne: Imagine how all the little songbirds feel about the guy.

  4. Delia: No – enough books. Need to think of something else… maybe gas for the car.


    Susan: I think I was seeing them in my dreams after so many Sunday morning.

  5. congrats on the baseball pool.-I think their are a lot worse things to do to a bird than to band it.-I’ll have to go back to that old post.

  6. I smiled at Mary’s comment about the series. If my son weren’t in Boston – I’d be clueless, too.


    The Cooper’s Hawk picture is wonderful. I didn’t know they had a nickname. Cool.

  7. Great photo of the hawk – I wish I could have stayed another 30 minutes to see the demo. Congrats on the $50 & I’m with Mary, I didn’t even know who was playing.

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