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Published July 31, 2011, 08:06 PM

Hawks Find Home in Grand Forks

It's one of about 20 nesting sites in Grand Forks and a good place to catch a Cooper. Using a taxidermy-mounted owl and pre-recorded bird calls, Driscoll hopes to trick the mother bird.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Tim Driscoll is setting up a net in the middle of this Grand Forks cemetery to trap a Cooper's Hawk.

"They are cool, but they are not rare," Driscoll said.

It's one of about 20 nesting sites in Grand Forks and a good place to catch a Cooper. Using a taxidermy-mounted owl and pre-recorded bird calls, Driscoll hopes to trick the mother bird.

"They dive at the owl and theoretically they do not see the net and they get caught," Driscoll said.

Driscoll waits a short distance away hoping for the bird to bite at his bait.

"The Great Horned Owl is one of the natural predators of the Cooper's Hawks. So the adults do not want the owl anywhere near their babies," Driscoll said.

After about a 20 minute wait, the mother Cooper's Hawk goes after the decoy and becomes trapped in the net.

Unharmed, the hawk is restrained in a make-shift cylinder. Driscoll sets up a temporary lab in the middle of the cemetery to do his testing.

"The length of the bill, the tarsis, the wing core, the weight, things like that. This year, we are testing for blood parasite including Malaria. That's why we do the blood work," Driscoll said.

The female hawk is three years old, and was first banded here two years ago. She has returned each year to the same area to raise her young, which is typical of the Cooper's Hawk.

"Another study is how far do they go from where they are born, to where they nest. That is one of the reasons we band all of the babies," Driscoll said.

Driscoll says the research is used to monitor the birds' health and habits.

He says, 25 years ago, the Cooper's Hawk couldn't be found in town but has learned the city is actually a safer place then the country.

"They have lost some of their natural predators, raccoons, Red tail hawks and Great Horned Owls. And they are thriving," Driscoll said.

Driscoll has trapped and tagged close to 70 hawks this summer.

All his work is volunteer, but it's his love for all birds that keeps him hooked on the hawks.

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