Posted by: jkennedy366 | 25 October 2013

October 22, Broad-winged kettles, dark broad-wings and other hawks.

The usual sunny north wind day hawk flight forecast turned out to be partly wrong again. The day started great until it was time for the hawks to get up and then an offshoot from the hurricane off Acapulco came riding by on the edge of the jet stream and shut down the hawks and swallows for a good bit. After great hawks, a second bit of gloom hit closing most birds down again until the jet stream went south with all the clouds. Satellite is great to say why the weatherman was wrong since that gentleman said it was good that the clouds kept it warmer in the morning ignoring his forecast of no clouds.

The first sign of the clouds thinning was the emergence of swainson’s hawks from out in the grass to fenceposts.

Fencepost swainson's hawk

Fencepost swainson’s hawk

 

And into the treetops

 

Tree top swainson's hawk

Tree top swainson’s hawk

 

Oranger swainson's hawk

Oranger swainson’s hawk

 

And soon they were overhead to join the rising broad-wings.

Swainson's going by

Swainson’s going by

 

I thought I was doing well to find about 150 broad-wings back near the fire station along with lots of swainson’s hawks until I got back to the tower and found 1500 overhead. And things got better from that point. Kettles of broad-wings swirled right overhead with the circling birds apparent from below

Under a kettle wheel

Under a kettle wheel

 

Most were young of the year broad-winged hawks

Light broad-wing

Light broad-wing

 

But one also saw dark broad-winged hawks

Dark broad-wing

Dark broad-wing

 

Or both colors together

Dark and light broad-wing

Dark and light broad-wing

 

The dark birds are impressive when they are right overhead

Dark broad-wing over the tower

Dark broad-wing over the tower

Dark broad-wing overhead

Dark broad-wing overhead

 

Multiple dark birds were in the kettles, often at the edges

Two dark broad-wings at the edge of a kettle

Two dark broad-wings at the edge of a kettle

 

Other hawks were up there too. Sharp-shinned hawks go by in numbers both in front of and in back of the tower

sharp-shinned hawk

sharp-shinned hawk

 

Many of the northern harriers are out there at the tree line but some come right by the tower and even in back of it along the grass. They do know they are being looked at and look back

northern harrier out front

northern harrier out front

And then a closer look

Northern harrier at tower height

Northern harrier at tower height

 

Turkey vultures are starting to appear in numbers. They may be mixed with the hawks or in flocks of mainly fellow vultures. The pure vulture flocks act quite differently than kettles of local birds that may come around the area earlier in the season. Many of the older birds are still in heavy molt compared to the hawks

molting adult turkey vulture

molting adult turkey vulture

 

By the end of the count on November 15th, turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks will make up almost all of the passing birds and a week later all are gone. It is a good thing that large numbers of smaller land birds also migrate through the point as a large portion of the accipiters have meals provided for them as they migrate. The dragonfly migration which occurs at the same time also feeds many of the birds. But never broad-wings and dark broad-wings as are occurring this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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