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May 21, 2014 at 7:11 PM

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Baby hawks moved from airport


BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

One of six red-tailed hawk chicks rescued from three nests during the annual raptor relocation process near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on May 21. The Port started the Raptor Strike Avoidance Program in 2001 to save birds from being struck by aircraft. Biologists only have a two-week window to snag the birds when they are between three and five weeks of age. The birds get just enough time to imprint with their parents to be able to live in the wild, but they are still immobile enough to transport easily. This bird is about five weeks old.

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BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES



BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

John Mailhiot, of Bow, a professional arborist, helps pluck red-tailed hawk chicks out of a nest for transport during the annual raptor relocation process near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Mailhiot has been doing the annual relocation for them for the last several years.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Port of Seattle Wildlife Biologist Mikki Viehoever puts a red-tailed hawk chick in a box for transport. Viehoever assures that they have used the same nests for years with the same result, and would move on if they wanted to.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

An airplane flies close to the canopy where the red-tailed hawks nest during the annual raptor relocation process.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

John Mailhiot helps pluck red-tailed hawk chicks out of a nest for transport.

BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Two young red-tailed hawks show their "aggressive faces" after being placed in a box for transport. These two are at the end of their third week, and still covered in down. They usually start flying at around seven weeks. The program has relocated 51 chicks like this since the inception of the program.

To learn more, search "SeaTac Wildlife" in your online search engine. If you see a red-tailed hawk in the area, check to see if it has a brightly colored wing tag on it. Blue tags designate relocated birds, while yellow tags designate the resident pairs at SeaTac. If the bird is tagged on the left wing, it's a male, on the right, female. If you see one, and/or get a photograph of one, email wingtaggedhawks@portseattle.org with the location and details about the bird for biologists to keep track of them. According to the Port, none of the relocated hawk chicks have returned and less than 4% of wing-tagged red-tailed hawks have returned since the start of the program in 2001.



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