Posted by: jkennedy366 | 20 October 2013

October 20, Broad-winged Hawks, including dark ones

The bird of the day has to be the dark broad-winged hawks. Lots of them. Much commoner bird than kestrels, harriers and Swainson’s Hawks. The birds can be hard to spot in the middle of a kettle when they bank wrong but really stand out when they bank with the sun at right angle. Depending on the kettle, 1 or 2 percent of the birds were dark birds. The best view was a late-pm kettle that had 6 dark birds flash in the sun.

Does anyone have a suggestion as to what conditions resulted in the unprecedented number of dark birds and the number of late broad-wings?

And a single dark broad-winged hawk

And a single dark Broad-winged Hawk

Depending on the kettle, dark birds could be hard or easy to find. This group has 2 dark birds

How many dark broad-wings

How many dark Broad-wingeds?

They are easier to find here

Dark broad-wing is easy here

Dark Broad-winged is easy here

And here

And more dark broad-wings

And more dark Broad-wingeds

Single broad-wings went by too

Broad-winged hawk overhead

Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk overhead

Broad-winged hawk with good tail bands

Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk with prominent tail bands

And cooper’s hawks had good hunting of the land bird migrants at the point. Most pm birds have very full crops while going by.

Cooper's hawk overhead

Cooper’s Hawk overhead

Red-tailed Hawks have not really started their migration yet, but individual birds move in and out of the area. This bird was welcoming visitors.

Young bird at entrance to hawk watch

Young bird at entrance to hawk watch

Some hawks do not look like what the books say and might be confused like this quiz bird. So what is it?

Looking like another species

Looking like another species

The abundant swallow passing the tower is currently Northern Rough-winged Swallow, with almost all birds today of that species. If you go out to Robbins Park, or the sewage ponds on the highway, the mix is different.

Rough-winged swallows gather on the wires as well as passing

Northern Rough-winged Swallows gather on the wires as well as passing.  Note this bird’s pale gape, indicating that it was hatched this year.

Dragonflies make up the food of many of the migrating birds at the point. Many of the hawks take them in the air but also hunt on the ground. I walked through the Northwest Motte and had both Swainson’s and Broad-winged hawks catching dragonflies. They fed differently, with the Swainson’s walking around just scarfing the bugs up, but the Broad-wingeds dropped down from a perch and took the prey along with leaves back to the perch. Cooper’s Hawks use the bugs under a security light in the nearby subdivision as an early-am food source.

I managed to add another species perching on my car antenna with this Eastern Phoebe already having a Vermilion Flycatcher perched there.

Second species perched on car at the hawk watch

Second species perched on car at the hawk watch


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