Free days in Ridgefield NWR

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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romann
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Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by romann » February 14th, 2015, 6:04 pm

FYI - February 14 through 16 are free days in Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Was a nice surprise when we got there today.
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Lumpy
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by Lumpy » February 14th, 2015, 6:11 pm

I've never been to Ridgefield NWR. I live right next to Steigerwald, managed by the same office. Steigerwald does not charge a fee to enter or park. Just FYI to those interested.
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greenjello85
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by greenjello85 » February 14th, 2015, 6:45 pm

Wow great pictures Romann! Thanks for the info and the birds.
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miah66
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by miah66 » February 16th, 2015, 10:00 am

That's a nice photo of that hawk. Red tail you think?
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Lumpy
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by Lumpy » February 16th, 2015, 10:27 am

Unless the post it is perched on is HUGE, it's probably a Cooper's Hawk. There seem to be tons of them all over SW WA.
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/coopers_hawk/id
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romann
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by romann » February 17th, 2015, 8:16 pm

Thanks all!

Lumpy - yes this was a regular fence post, the hawk wasn't large. I googled Cooper's Hawk and they seem to range from grey to brown, but many images look just like it. I was surprised at it ignoring the cars just 2-3 yards away - the hawk was looking for prey right near the road, with a lot of spectators.

R11
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by R11 » February 22nd, 2015, 1:40 pm

I'm no expert but that looks likely to be an immature male Red Tail to me. Coopers Hawks (both mature and immature) have just several wide/even black bands on a long, greyish tail. This one has numerous, thin, irregular black strips on a short, brown tail which RT have in their first year feathers. It does look pretty small, but Red Tails do have quite a bit of size variation and males are distinctly smaller than females. Also, the circumstances of the sighting are right up the RT alley, as they primarily hunt mostly small game in open areas/fields generally from perches. I've been able to walk up close to RT perched in trees without disturbing them much, but CH generally seem much more adverse to proximity of people.


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Lumpy
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by Lumpy » February 22nd, 2015, 2:00 pm

In my experience at Steigerwald, the Red Tailed hawks are very wary of people, but the Coopers hawks that perch on the fence posts allow people moving at walking speed to get within about 50-60 feet before casually flying away.

Different behaviors due to different conditions at different areas?
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R11
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by R11 » February 25th, 2015, 12:05 pm

Lumpy wrote:In my experience at Steigerwald, the Red Tailed hawks are very wary of people, but the Coopers hawks that perch on the fence posts allow people moving at walking speed to get within about 50-60 feet before casually flying away.

Different behaviors due to different conditions at different areas?
That's interesting. And that sounds like a good theory, as I admit that my up close and personal RT encounters recently have been at Oaks Bottom which is a decidedly more urbanish environment with lots of people around. The first time I saw one up close down there a couple years ago I was walking on the path along the edge of the field at the south end of the lake when I saw a flicker fly up into a low tree from the ground in front of me and start squawking. I figured it was annoyed by me and would fly out of the tree as I got closer but it just stayed there squawking as I walked right up to the tree. That was when I realized it was taking cover and sending out a warning, so I turned around and saw a large hawk perched in the lone, bare, deciduous tree out in the middle of the field. I didn't have any binos so I slowly started walking back to see if I could get a better look at it, and to my surprise I was able to walk right up under the tree as it just sat there, 20-25 feet away. I walked around the tree to get a better look at the tail and it still wasn't phased. I really wanted to see it's underside and figured it would eventually fly off but that thing actually waited me out... After a good five minutes I gave up and headed on around the lake, and it was gone when I came back through on the return.

I see them sunning themselves after rain showers, hunting and eating their prey from perches around the area frequently. Last Saturday there was a good sized juvenile eating a squirrel up in one of the cottonwoods between the field and lake that I got a great view of with binos. As I was watching it, one of the walkers who came by said when he moved to the neighborhood ten years ago there were a bunch of RT in the area, but the eagles that began nesting on Ross Island have driven many of them out. A couple weeks ago another one was eating a bird on the top of a broken off tree trunk maybe 35 feet away, and was much more concerned with eating than the people who stopped to watch. I stayed until it was done when it flew right over my head and up to one of the powerline towers next to the field.

As far as Cooper's Hawks go, up until several years ago I really didn't know much about them except being familiar with the name. I had previously seen a very brief sighting of one in the yard from inside the house but that was about it. Then one day as I was on the computer at home I suddenly started hearing loud raptor type screeching, so I jumped up, grabbed my camcorder and ran out to the front porch to see if I could get a look at what was happening. Twenty feet away from the end of my porch on a bottom branch of one of the alders I saw a small hawk that looked distressed, wings and tail splayed and screeching up a storm, with another one perched right nearby intently watching. After a few seconds I realized it was mantling a very small bird it had caught and was warning off the other hawk. When it saw me it grabbed the bird and flapped up about ten feet to a higher branch and proceeded to pluck/eat it for the next 15 minutes or so. Here's a cropped frame grab of it still mantling a bit and screeching as it got ready to eat on the higher branch:
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Crop of the second Coop that continued to stay close during the "dining":
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And a good side view of the Coop with a full belly getting ready to take off shortly after sucking down the last leg/claw like a piece of spaghetti:
screech 10SEcropsmall.jpg
After that I researched them quite a bit and have since kept an eye out but other than these two that hung around the neighborhood for a week or so the only other up close encounter I've had was another immature one that I surprised as I came around a corner on a trail, that was intently eying birds in a brushy/marshy area, from a low branch. It took off as soon as it realized I had stopped. I still have yet to see a mature one up close. The juvenile Coops do seem to be more brash (young and dumb?) and vocal than the mature birds.


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Lumpy
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Re: Free days in Ridgefield NWR

Post by Lumpy » February 25th, 2015, 1:35 pm

Unfortunately, the two I have been closest to died when they hit the windows of the house. One died gripping a medium sized robin in it's talons that it probably beheaded a few minutes previous as the robin was no longer bleeding.

There are good numbers of coopers hawks near steigerwald, good numbers of eagles on Reed Island, and red tailed hawks spread throughout the entire nearby area.

A few years ago, a bald eagle swooped down and grabbed a small rabbit about forty feet in front of me in my "back yard". Didn't hear it come down or fly off, if I hadn't seen it it would have never happened. It was HUGE! :shock:
"Why are you always chasing women?"
"I'll tell you as soon as I catch one!"

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