Sunday, November 3, 2013

Winter Raptor Survey season

Adult Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk
The winter season is fast approaching which means time to hit the open country for great raptor watching. If you aren't doing a Winter Raptor Survey route already, I hope you'll get on it and create one or join with someone else. Well worth it and the effort will ultimately help paint a picture of winter raptor distribution across the continent. Ferruginous, Harlan's, Rough-legged hawks, Eagles, Merlins, etc. are getting re-aquainted with their winter haunts as the days get shorter and colder. For most of us these birds are important talismans to the winter landscape that bring excitement to our winter birding. It is always with eager anticipation that I head out in search of these special birds. I'm never sure what I'll find.
     A short outing yesterday produced some nice birds. One of these is the Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk pictured above. This is the same bird that spent last winter in the exact same spot, and possibly for a number of years prior to that. With their unique plumages, Harlan's are great to document long-term winter site fidelity. Another gem was a Richardson's Merlin getting a scolding from two kestrels. I was a bit surprised then to see the male kestrel and Merlin taking a break from the dogfight to sit together for about 30 seconds. Not something you see every day. Four Ferruginous Hawks, including one dark bird, completed the day nicely.
Kestrel and Merlin...momentary truce

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