Friday, October 11, 2013

Raptor Bytes - hawkwatching morsels from around the web

Google Doodle
Swainson’s Doodle
On Tuesday (October 8th) it was nice to see celebrating the birthday and work of ornithologist and illustrator William John Swainson. Though he lends his name to the common name of three North American bird species, with the hawk being the most important obviously, sadly we weren’t treated to the same celebration on this side of the pond. You can read more about Swainson, his work and his somewhat checkered history by following the link (here). 

Swainson's Hawk - Alex Lamoreaux
Swainson’s Blog - Nemesis Bird
Talking of Swainson’s, this has to be one of the most sought out species for any eastern hawkwatch, and with the insanity of Broad-winged season now passed, it’s a good time to be grilling those passing raptors for a nice rarity. The majority of eastern Swainson's records seem to fall into a period from early October to late November. One of my favorite blogs, Nemesis Bird, produced a series of excellent articles on aging and determining the color morphs of Swainson’s Hawks a couple of years back and you can see part one of the three part article (here).

Nemesis Bird is a fantastic blog with lots of lively and valuable content from a collection of excellent and interesting young writers. A bunch of the team for the blog are also self confessed raptor fiends so raptor fans will find much to enjoy there. Other posts have included such cool ideas as live blogging via ustream from their local hawkwatch (here). One of the Nemesis Bird team, Mike Lanzone, also sits on the HMANA Board. As well as the blog you can keep up to date with what the guys and girls from Nemesis Bird are up to on their facebook page (here).

Possum & Hawk Migration Studies - Luke Tiller
Swainson’s Snaps
I was excited to receive my fall copy of the HMANA Hawk Studies Magazine and it looks like my dog Possum was pretty thrilled too (congrats if you noticed that he is looking at a Red-tailed Hawk, the awesome Swainson’s shot is on the back cover). Fascinating articles on the history of NEHW (so cleverly named they didn’t even need to adjust the acronym when they changed the name) from good friend Neil Currie, in depth Raptorthon reports from Laurie Goodrich, Hawkwatching in Hawaii with Lance Tanino, the fall 2012 flyway reports from across the country, an article about teaming up with the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership and all complimented by some stunning and often full color raptor photography from Steve Byland and Vic Berardi amongst others.

Hawk Migration Studies comes as part of your HMANA membership package so if you aren’t a member already or haven’t signed up for the year you can do so by visiting the membership page of our brand spanking new website (here). You can also download membership brochures to distribute at your local hawkwatch and I would encourage members to do so.

Swainson's Hawk (dark juvenile) - Braddock Bay Raptor Research
Swainson’s Maps
I'm wondering if everyone saw those cool little species maps that eBird were producing - essentially an annual cycle of species reports . This one from March is for the Swainson’s Hawk (here).  Interesting that it doesn’t register the increasing number of individuals that seem to be overwintering on the Gulf Coast (perhaps still not in enough density to be picked up in this kind of data representation). These Gulf Coast birds have been suggested as the potential originators of some of the hawkwatch sightings of Swainson’s Hawk across the northeast.


  1. Luke ,nice article.however HMANA cannot be accessed. Seems the U.S.Gov. shut down has also shut hamna down as well.So the link is broken until futher notice.Any other way around this?

  2. The link in the post to the HMANA site is working. If you have any further issues accessing please e-mail me at - Daena Ford, HMANA

  3. Thanks Thom - much appreciated. Not sure why you couldn't access the HMANA website - assuming it was just a temporary glitch.