Naturalist, author to talk about raptors Jan. 23

James L. Davis, Portland author of the 2009 book “The Northwest Nature Guide: Where to Go and What to See Month by Month in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia,” loves to rap about raptors.

“If you see a bird swoop out of the air and catch another animal, that’s a pretty sure clue that you just saw a raptor in action,” he says.

Davis will teach teenagers and adults how to identify local raptors, or “birds of prey,” at a free class in the Gresham City Council Chambers, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway, from 7:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23. An RSVP is required, so call Patrick Blanchard at 503-618-2740 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY PATRICK BLANCHARD - This juvenile red hawk has been spotted around Gresham City Hall. Raptors like this will be the subject of a presentation in council chambers Jan. 23.

The program is suitable for adults and teenagers, and will help prepare participants for the Raptor Road Trip, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, on Sauvie Island.

Metro, Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and HawkWatch International sponsor the CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - James L. Davis, a Metro naturalist, enjoys sharing his knowledge of birds with everyone and will talk about raptors this week in Gresham.

“All birds of prey have beaks that are very specialized for capturing, killing, and eating other animals,” Davis says. “Most people can clearly tell that these birds have meat-eating beaks for eating their prey.

“The other obvious characteristic is how all these raptors catch their prey,” he says. “All raptors have large, very strong talons on their feet for catching and killing their prey.”

Davis adds many birds of prey are large birds “because they kill other birds.” Birds of prey generally belong to four “families,” he adds. The Accipitridae includes eagles, hawks, accipiters, kites, harrier and osprey. Falconidae are falcons.

“All these birds are similar looking, so it is easy for birders to recognize that all these birds are in these two families and are often just called ‘hawks,’ or maybe ‘raptors,’” Davis says.

The two other families of birds of prey are the two families of owls, he says.

Davis notes birds of prey play an important role in killing animals that otherwise might excessively devour plants and crops. Hawks, for example, keep down the population of rodents that eat crops.

“All predators play very critical roles in the overall balance of nature in every ecosystem,” he says.

More than 600 species of birds live in or move through Oregon each year, according to information provided by Patrick Blanchard, wildlife specialist with the city of Gresham.

“These animals can serve as important ecological indicators of healthy habitats, and their bright colors, distinct songs and presence just about everywhere makes them an easy group of animals to learn and monitor,” the wildlife office says.

In addition to Davis’ class, Gresham will host two other classes to help everyone learn about the species that frequent our environs.

n “Backyard Birds” takes place from 7:30-9 p.m.Thursday, Feb. 20, in the council chambers.

n “Spring Birds” takes place from 7:30-9 p.m.Thursday, April 3, in the council chambers.

Citizens also can volunteer for Gresham’s annual bird surveys in April.

“Your data will help us make important management decisions from prioritizing restoration projects to building habitat for birds,” the city says.

Participants should RSVP to Blanchard.

The city will host other opportunities for folks to get to know Gresham’s natural areas a little better.

From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 1, the Audubon Society of Portland will host an informal “walk and talk” starting at Gresham’s Linnemann’s Station, 3828 S.E. Powell Blvd., that will tour the Fairview Creek Headwaters.

The city also will offer “Weed Watchers” classes designed to teach you how to spot and report the city’s most problematic weeds. Classes take place on the following dates:

n Wednesday, April 16, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Barlow Trail Room, Gresham City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway.

n Saturday, May 17, from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Rockwood Library, 17917 S.E. Stark St.

n Wednesday, June 25, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Linnemann’s Station.

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