Necropsy Summary

The final report did not add much to the preliminary results.  Here is a summary of the final necropsy report:

On 9/29/2012 volunteers with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory trapped and radio-tagged Lakota, a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk in the Marin Headlands.  On 10/04/2012 she was found dead on Angel Island by radio-tracking volunteers after several days of limited movement.  On 10/5/2012 she was brought to the California Animal Health & Food Safety Lab at UC Davis for a necropsy.  Despite some decomposition of Lakota’s body, the veterinarians provided some interesting insight.  First, Lakota had some muscle atrophy in her breast muscles.  This suggests some nutritional stress which is not uncommon for birds during long-distance migrations.  Despite that condition, she did have small fat deposits present, suggesting starvation was not imminent.  Although the results were not conclusive, the speculated cause of death was a 4-6mm hole in her back that pierced through the muscles and ended in one of her lungs.  Blood around the wound indicates she was still alive at the time she was punctured.  No exit wound was present, and no foreign debris was found in the wound, indicative that it was not caused by a bullet or from a BB gun.  The size of the wound is consistent with a Red-tailed Hawk talon; however, we cannot rule out other sources or predators.

October 5, 2012

Lakota was taken to UCD for necropsy, and initial results show that she had a small circular puncture wound near her vertebrae which extended into her lungs. No foreign object was found.  While we will never know the exact cause of the injury, it may have been from a "natural" source.... another raptor. 

I last saw Lakota, Sunday morning, rising up from Kirby Cove.  She circled up from the groves of eucalyptus/pines/cypress and was so high in the sky that she became a little speck.... a true hawk dot. Although there were no other raptors in the sky, I hoped she would glide across the Gate and continue her southern movement.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and her journey ended here, in the Bay Area.

Sad news...

We are very sorry to report that Lakota the juvenile Broad-winged Hawk's body was found and retrieved from Angel Island this morning by telemetrists. There were no visible signs of damage or cause of death. We will have a necropsy done, but it may not tell us what happened.  We all know that the weather has been extremely hot along the coast, but that may or may not have contributed to her death. She was banded, tagged, and released on Saturday.  On Sunday, she was seen rising up from Kirby Cove in the morning and flying high over Slacker Ridge. She was also photographed flying in a kettle above Hawk Hill. She spent that evening in Ayala Cove on the north side of Angel Island, with her signal picked up loud and strong from the southern tip of Tiburon. The following day, her signal moved to the south-east side of Angel Island. On Tuesday, only minimal movement was detected, and on Wednesday, none. We will keep you posted about what we find out. (Photo by Mary Malec of Lakota just after release on Saturday.)

A Change in the Weather

Today, Wednesday October 3rd, the heat finally gave way to fog so thick and wet that it sent the Hawkwatchers and Banders home.  Despite the change in the weather, Lakota didn't moved from the south end of Angel Island.   Tomorrow a team will go to see if they can figure out what's going on with her.  Stay tuned...

Still Laying Low in the Heat

Tuesday, October 2nd, Lakota remained at Angel Island, waiting for some wind perhaps? The hot, still weather refused to accommodate.  Maybe tomorrow will bring a breeze. 

James and David had bearings for most of the day from Lawrence Hall they came down later in the day and received some nice bearings from the Berkeley marina.  Larry and Barb had no bearings on Twin Peaks.  Lynn and Cheryl heard less than ten beeps all day, listening mostly to static. 

Once Lakota gets across the gate or the bay, we anticipate 4 days of travel, so help is needed to extend the teams through the weekend. 

Tomorrow Mike and Phil will be along the Berkeley ridgeline.  David and Lynn will be on Mt Hamilton, and Barb and James will be at Hawkwatch observing any kettles that form, learning how they move, and attempting to discern whether any birds are crossing.   

Perhaps the Hawkwatchers should perform a “wind dance” to rouse Lakota …

Oct 1 - Too hot to fly

Four teams were in the field ready to track Lakota's movement across the gate, but there was no breeze and no movement.  Lakota's only movement was from north Angel Island to south Angel Island. 

Teams in the field were Phil and Rich at Mt Hamilton, Larry and David at Twin Peaks, Barb and Lynn at Grizzly Peak and later Lawrence Hall of Science.  Cheryl and James were chase team, "on the bird" on the Tiburon Peninsula.  The best signal came from Mt Hamilton.

Tomorrow's teams are Cheryl and Lynn at Mt. Hamilton, James and David at Twin Peaks, Larry and Barb at Grizzly Peak.

Some of the telemetrists can't stay out for 7 straight days if Lakota continues to lay low in the heat, so if you're interested in joining a team towards the end of the week, please contact Lynn on her cell.

I couldn't resist posting another photo of Sarah releasing Lakota, they're just so cute together. Aren't they?
Time to fly, Sarah releases Lakota on Saturday

Re-joining the Kettle

On Sunday, September 30th  2012, chase team Cheryl and Lynn started tracking Lakota from above her Kirby Cove roost site even before the hawkwatchers were in position on the hill.  The other teams in place were James on Mt Hamilton and Phil with Richard on Grizzly Peak. 

Cheryl and Lynn could see a few roosting birds in the direction of their bearings towards Kirby Cove.  Soon they saw a bird to their left, circling. It was a Broadwing hawk.  Seen first at eye level, the bird increased in altitude as it circled, until Lynn could see the sun sparkling off of an antennae.  It was Lakota.  “She was the first bird up”, Lynn reported.  Lakota circled higher and higher while drifting to the north toward Slacker Ridge.  Lynn and Cheryl moved to the roundabout on Conzelman Road.  They found Lakota there.  Signals vanished when Lakota went behind the hill toward Battery Spencer.  Lynn and Cheryl did some docent work with tourists in between taking bearings.  Their signals were always to the north and were of varying strengths with the rise and fall in Lakota’s altitude. 

Later in the day bearings were to the east, so the team headed to Twin Peaks in San Francisco.  On Twin Peaks, Cheryl and Lynn met with literally busloads of tourists so once again they were docents of GGRO.  They received bearings from Kirby Cove to Alcatraz, swinging back and forth multiple times.  Signals were mostly circling and at times erratic.  At that same time, hawkwatchers on the hill watched kettles form, move south towards San Francisco and then return!  Before heading out to the hill, Allen had told the hawkwatchers “kettles are about getting altitude” and “the birds peel off from the top”.  How many were peeling off and crossing over the gate, even though most seemed to return to Marin?    The hawkwatchers counted 103 Broadwing sightings, one of which was Lakota. 

At 1523 hours, the signal was lost from Twin Peaks.  Phil and Richard, who had moved to Point Richmond, had a signal pointing toward Ayala Cove on Angel Island.  That was the location of Lakota’s roost site for the night.

How many new Broadwings arriving from the north will join the kettle? How many Broadwings will cross the gate tomorrow?  Will Lakota be among them?   Stay tuned! 
     Lakota, seen by Hawkwatchers Sept 30