With permission, I thought I would share an offline conversation I had with 
falconer Tim Gallagher a few weeks ago (below). The discussion started because 
I questioned why eBird was blocking eBird RBA alerts of Gyrfalcon sightings 
while at the same time possibly instilling fear in people wanting to share 
sightings of this species to a broader audience due to the “sensitive” nature 
for this species.

Apparently, licensed falconers (and only licensed falconers) may attempt to 
trap and may only keep young wild Gyrfalcons as falconry birds during a very 
narrow window during the fall and into the first 42 days of winter. As this 
bird is not a young bird, and as it is now outside the legal window of time to 
attempt to trap, there should be no fear in reporting it. Further, the eBird 
RBA alert ban (in my option) should be lifted or modified to allow greater 
visibility of Gyrfalcon sightings outside of the legal trapping window.

If anything, far more sensitive species, such as Snowy Owls, should have more 
restrictive eBird RBA alert reporting; perhaps in proximity to more populated 
areas. As we have seen in areas near major population centers, Snowy Owls are 
often placed under far more stress by being repeatedly flushed by persons 
trying to get closer to the owls.

It does not make sense to hide sightings of a species as awesome as a Gyrfalcon 
from the general birdwatching public, if there is no concern or threat of legal 
of capture. If anything, this could be a great educational opportunity for 
beginning and non-birders alike.

I’m open to being convinced otherwise.

Chris T-H

Here’s an excerpt from Tim:

From: Tim Gallagher <t...@cornell.edu<mailto:t...@cornell.edu>>
Subject: Re: Falconry Laws?
Date: January 20, 2018 at 5:14:17 AM GMT+13
To: "Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes" <c...@cornell.edu<mailto:c...@cornell.edu>>

They can only be captured during the period from September 1 to January 31 of 
their first year, so it's a very limited window. There are only 12 days 
remaining to legally trap a hatch-year 2017 raptor. Any birds from earlier 
hatch years are already illegal to take into captivity.

I should add that falconers suggested these rules to the federal government—and 
also rules requiring would-be falconers to serve an apprenticeship of at least 
two years under an experienced falconer. The U.S. has the most stringent 
falconry regulations in the world, and they were designed by falconers. The 
well-being of raptor populations is our foremost concern.

Here are the pertinent section of the falconry rules relating to trapping 
(173.3 -- Acquisition of Raptors):

(h) First year passage birds may only be captured from September 1st through 
January 31st inclusive.

(i) A falconer who captures a raptor in adult plumage must immediately release 
that raptor at the site of capture.

On Feb 13, 2018, at 8:47 AM, Bird observations from western New York 
<geneseebird...@geneseo.edu<mailto:geneseebird...@geneseo.edu>> wrote:

The Seneca County Gyfalcon in discussion is an adult "slate-gray" colored 
Gyrfalcon.  Although the bird in question has white on the underside, it is not 
a "white" Gyrfalcon which would be completely white (similar to the plumage of 
a Snowy Owl). This bird is likely a annual returning wintering bird to the 
Seneca County quarry.  You can see a photo I took of it on my Flicker page at:



Brad Carlson
GeneseeBirds-L mailing list  -  

Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes
Field Applications Engineer
Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850
W: 607-254-2418<tel:607-254-2418>   M: 607-351-5740<tel:607-351-5740>   F: 


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