Monday, September 3, 2018

Yard Critter of the Week - Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk.

I've mentioned before the benefits of working form home, none the least of which is that I can work form home. And only recently have I been able to sit again.*

And as I was sitting at the desk in my home office I glanced out the window. And saw a this perched on the bat house.

Clearly not a bat.

Rather, a very wet hawk. But it was not obvious what species it was.

Possibilities included Red-tailed Hawk, the most common buteo in our area; Red-shouldered Hawk, which breeds in the woods around here; Broad-winged Hawk, which migrates through; and (what Patty was wishing for) Swainson's Hawk, a bird of the western US which occasionally wanders east.

Red-Tailed was ruled out based on the the dark band on the breast being too high, and the lack of a red tail. Swainson's was as well because as much as we wanted it to be a rare visitor, the bird just didn't match our field guides or online images.

So that left Red-shouldered and Broad-winged. We were leaning toward the former as we knew we had those hawks in our woods.

Confounding the issue was that field guides don't show wet birds. And that my images were shot through screens, which blur the details a bit. I tried to get screen-free images, but as soon as I stepped outside the bird flew (which is how I confirmed that lack of a red tail).

Fortunately, the bird returned later in the day.

A bit dryer this time. And perched where I could get a good shot of the tail, albeit still through a screen (and it again flew when I stepped outside; I even tried going out the front door and walking slowly around to the back to no avail).

And it is the tail that clinched the ID. A Broad-winged Hawk has broad black and white tail bands, while the Red-Shouldered Hawk has thin bands.

A very cool yard bird!


You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Thanks to Patty Rehn, Sandra Keller, and Martin Dellwo for help with ID'ing this bird. Any errors are mine alone.


* I injured my back in mid July, and common things we take for granted, like walking and sitting, have been problematic for a while now. As I like to say, I'm on the road to recovery. Alas it is a dirt road with plenty of potholes.

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