Raptor Identification Class 2019

Disclaimer: This is considered to be an Advanced Birding class. The Education Committee strongly recommends that participants either have several years of birding experience or have taken one or more birding classes before registering for the raptor class. Classes such as Travis Audubon’s Beginning Birding or Birding 101 classes will help prepare students for the more rigorous material and fairly rapid pace of the Raptor ID class. If you have questions, feel free to contact caley@travisaudubon.org.

Dates of Classroom Sessions: Monday Sep 9 and Monday Sep 16, 2019, 6 to 9 p.m.
Instructed by Dr. Byron Stone

Optional Field Trip Dates & Fees:
Corpus Christi – Sep 27 – 29, 2019  $60 per person, 16 people maximum
Duluth, Mn – Oct 18 – 20, 2019  $150 per person, 10 people maximum

Hawks are fun to watch, but they can be difficult to identify. Central Texas annually hosts 19 species of diurnal raptors (hawks, vultures, eagles, kites and falcons), with another 5 species that occur occasionally.The class will consist of two 3-hour classroom sessions with still photos and videos to illustrate key identification points about diurnal birds of prey likely to be seen in central Texas. Plumage and structural features, size, shape and behavior will all be discussed. Two optional long-distance field trips to fall hawk watch sites will be offered (for an additional charge) on the weekends of Sep 27-29 (Corpus Christi, Tx) and Oct 18 – 20 (Duluth, Mn).

The main focus of the class will be to help participants become more comfortable identifying our year-round raptors (2 vultures and an eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk and Crested Caracara) and to become better able to separate these birds from species that spend only part of the year here (like Broad-winged and Swainson’s Hawks, Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, 3 species of kites and 2 species of falcon). This class should be suitable for almost anyone with a moderate amount of experience trying to identify birds with binocular. The material is likely to be quite challenging for a beginning birder. In addition to field identification, the class will include some information about raptor biology and conservation. The main focus is on field identification.

Class fee is $60 for TAS members, $80 for non-members. Classroom will be in north-central Austin.

2019 TAS Raptor Class field trips to Corpus and to Duluth

Optional long-distance field trip to Corpus the weekend of September 27th-29h for Celebration of Flight, Friday afternoon through Sunday morning. Field trip fee is $60 and is open to current class participants. If you’ve previously taken the Raptor class and would like to participate only in the field trip to Corpus, contact the registrar caley@travisaudubon.org to be put on the waiting list, if there are openings. Maximum 16 people.

Optional long-distance field trip to Duluth the weekend of Friday Oct 18 thru Sunday Oct 20. Field trip fee is $150 per person.  Participants will be responsible for their own expenses, including airfare, lodging, meals, and hawk-watch paraphernalia (t-shirts, hats, etc.). Open first to participants of current class. If you’ve previously taken the Travis Audubon Raptor ID Class and would like to participate only in the field trip to Duluth, contact the registrar at caley@travisaudubon.org to be put on the waiting list, if there are openings. Maximum 10 people.

Hawk Ridge in Duluth Minnesota, is one of the premier fall hawk-watching locations in North America. The Sharp-shinned flights in September and October can be spectacular, with thousands of birds passing daily, often whizzing by at close range. The flight of Red-tailed Hawks is one of the best in the nation, both for numbers and diversity. The Bald Eagle flight is spectacular, often with hundreds of birds passing daily. And from mid-October through mid-November, Northern Goshawk, the signature species of Hawk Ridge, is seen most days, sometimes at very close range. We had several great looks at goshwaks on this trip in 2018. Rough-legs and Golden Eagles should also both be present by mid-October. And hawks are not the only attraction. Northern finches like Pine Grosbeak and White-winged Crossbill begin showing up in late October, and it is not unusual to have large numbers of Purple Finches fly by, with some foraging near the hawk-watch itself. American Tree Sparrows start showing up in mid-October, and Northern Shrike sometimes shows then, too. Black-backed Woodpeckers are uncommon permanent residents here, but sometimes their numbers swell and they put on a really good show as they did 2 years ago. Duluth, the “City on the Hill,” is built on a steep ridge above the western end of Lake Superior. It is a college town with many amenities and a thriving tourist industry. It is usually much cooler than central Texas. Average high on Oct 21 is 51 degrees (although it can be much warmer than this) and average low on that date is 39 degrees. We will spend all or most of each morning at the hawk watch, and part of the afternoon, too, if the hawk flight is really great. We will spend part of one or more afternoons down near the lake shore or in other parts of town to seek other good birds, like Tree Sparrows and Snow Buntings and scoters. Excellent gull-watching can be had at Wisconsin Point, about 40 minutes from the hawk watch, but gull diversity may not be optimal yet at the time of our visit. We will stay in a reasonably-priced motel about a 10-minute drive from the hawk watch. Multiple excellent restaurant options are available. Participants will need to rent or share rental vehicles in order to get about. We will coordinate transportation once we know who is going.

This is one of Byron’s favorite trips.

For questions about registration, contact caley@travisaudubon.org.

Register Here

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