Day 3: Taka
tues 18 nov 2014

Taka, a Swainson's Hawk, was found by a road in California, but he hadn't been hit by a car... he had been shot. They fixed him up as best they could, but when he was healed he could not return to the wild.

His wing doesn't extend fully, so he would not be able to survive the 3000 mile migration down to Argentina.

Taka not only adapted well to captivity, he also doesn't mind being in front of a crowd. So he helps teach at the raptor center, and sometimes they take him to teach kids about raptors at special events. His handler emphasized how incredible Taka is for being able to do this... there aren't very many wild-born raptors who can!

Taka at Cascades Raptor Center

Taka was found as an adult in 2001, which means he is at least 14 years old and may be quite a bit older since they can't tell how old adults are. The oldest Swainson's Hawk recorded is a 24 year old banded bird in the wild.

Altho Swainson's Hawks are currently a species of "Least Concern", in the past they have been threatened by pesticides. They migrate south in the winter, and in Argentina they are known as Grasshopper Hawks.

When farmers sprayed DDT and monocrotophos, the grasshoppers and the Grasshopper Hawks died in droves. The US and Canada worked with Argentina to prevent these deaths. But DDT and monocrotophos are still being produced and used in many parts of the world. :(

And it's not just bugs and birds who are killed by monocrotophos and pesticides... humans are killed as well.

If you've not read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, I highly recommend it. It was written in the early 1960's but it is still relevant since DDT is still being used, and hundreds of new pesticides are being developed every year.

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