Hawks Versus Ducks in the Western Final!

Written by Garnet Raven
Thursday, May 14, 2015

Photo of Garnet Raven.The Alberta ground survey crew completed stratum 27 today and most of us have moved north to Wainwright. From here we will survey most of stratum 26 and bring the survey to a close in a few more days.

Stratum 28 was relatively dry with decent duck numbers, but we’ve seen an increase in moisture as we moved north through stratum 27. Today we surveyed the Spondin and Compeer transects in east-central Alberta and finally found some excellent wetland conditions. Duck numbers were well above average and it’s looking good as we start to survey the parklands tomorrow.

Our crew members have been seeing many raptors over the last few days, including Ferruginous hawks, Swainson’s hawks and Red-tailed hawks. It really emphasized all the challenges a nesting duck faces in these landscapes. Foxes, coyotes and raptors threaten the very life of the nesting hens, not to mention the many egg predators, including the skunks, crows and magpies. It’s not easy to be successful hatching a nest and it can be even more challenging to fledge that brood. However, when conditions are right the predators just can’t keep up and production can be impressive. It’s looking like that just may be the case in the Alberta parklands this year. I’m cheering for the DUCKS! ...but the HAWKS have a great team too!

A willet observed on the Hanna transect.

A willet observed on the Hanna transect. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited

Surveying a seasonal wetland on the Hanna transect.

Surveying a seasonal wetland on the Hanna transect. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited

Loggerhead Shrike on the Hanna transect.

Loggerhead Shrike on the Hanna transect. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited

A receding stream bed on the Hanna transect.

A receding stream bed on the Hanna transect. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited

A Swainson’s Hawk feeding on a pintail on the Spondin transect.

A Swainson’s Hawk feeding on a pintail on the Spondin transect. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited

A Swainson’s Hawk carrying away a pintail on the Spondin transect.

A Swainson’s Hawk carrying away a pintail on the Spondin transect. Credit: Murray Gillespie, Ducks Unlimited