Denyse Racine, the DFG wildlife biologist in Bishop, and Ron Schlorff of CDFG holding the first pair of Swainson's hawks in the Owen's Valley to get satellite transmitters (first week in July 2003). Four transmitters were used in the study. Dick Anderson and Racine are the co-principal investigators. Mike Bradbury and Adrienne Disbrow (DFG Bishop) are also involved. The Bishop DFG office paid for the four transmitters, at about 3K each.
The Owen's Valley study is much the same kind of migration research as the SWTAC did a few years ago with the Central Valley birds to find out were the OV birds go to spend the winter. They also took blood samples for genetics work to compare the population with those of other parts of CA. and the rest of the U.S. Finally, a portion of the blood samples will be tested by our research partners in the genetics and wildlife disease labs at U.C., Davis for West Nile Virus; the mosquito borne disease is known to be deadly to raptors in other parts of the country.
The Owen's Valley population is unique in that a small number of territories are centered on a few alfalfa fields that have suitable nest trees nearby. This is a real out door laboratory where DFG can study the ecology of the species in a setting that is essentially free from the construction disturbance and habitat destruction factors that are prevalent here in the Central Valley. There are still problems to be faced by the species in the Owen's Valley; one of the territories monitored had suffered the loss of an adult bird due to shooting.