Posts Tagged ‘hawks’


Broad-winged Hawk

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

September 3, 2017

Broad-winged Hawk
Buteo platypterus

by Michael Aurelia, Connecticut Audubon Society Board of Directors
The Broad-Winged Hawk is small, compact raptor with chunky body and large head that is distributed throughout Connecticut wherever relatively large tracts of forested land are present. These forests can be either deciduous, or mixed with conifers.

Broad-wings are the smallest of the buteo hawks breeding in Connecticut. Individual hawks weigh a little more than a Fish Crow and are about the same size.

During breeding season, the hawks can be difficult to find because they spend most of their time underneath the forest canopy chasing their prey from perches. Their call is a short, high pitched whistle that lasts 2 to 4 seconds with a short first note and longer second note: kee-eeeee.

During fall migration, if you’re in the right place, it’s almost impossible not to see them.

What it looks like: According to Cornell’s online ”All About Birds,” the adult Broad-winged Wawk has a reddish-brown head with barred breast and a distinctive square tail with broad black and white bands. Juveniles are lighter brown with coarser streaking on the breast and the tail is narrowly banded. The birds are quite a bit smaller than our other common buteos: Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Where and How to Find It: Starting in late August, hundreds of thousands of Broad-winged Hawks leave northern forests to head for their wintering grounds in Central and South America. During fall migration this little buteo can be found on almost all ridge lines where the birds can find thermal winds to give them the necessary lift to form large kettles and soar. Go to any local hawk watching site and be prepared to see as many as a thousand or more broad-wings soaring by each day.

One such popular location is the Audubon Greenwich Center, which has its annual Hawk Watching festival this year on September 16 and 17. Hawk watches are also held at Lighthouse Point Park, in New Haven.

Of course you can still find the most recent reports of a broad-wings by going to Click Explore Data, then Species Maps and insert Broad-Winged Hawk. For the date chose year around current year; for location, Connecticut.

During the breeding season look for Broad-winged Hawks to be nesting in the forested areas in both the northwest and northeast corners of the state, but they nest in other parts of Connecticut as well.
Other interesting facts: Broad-wings have a diverse diet and eat small mammals, amphibians and a wide variety of insects and crustaceans which they catch on the forest floor usually near a waterbody or opening. Some breeding pairs can stay together for multiple years while others select new mates every year. Serious predators include other buteo hawks, raccoons, porcupines, American crows, Great Horned Owls and black bears.

Conservation Status: The Broad-winged Hawk’s status in Connecticut can best described as stable. As forest habitat returned to Connecticut over the last century, the hawk’s numbers have increased. The key to protecting this small buteo is to conserve large forested tracks near wetlands and watercourses. On the national level the IUCN indicates the Broad-winged Hawk’s status is of Least Concern, with the population trend stable or increasing slightly.


Northern Goshawk: Bird Finder for October 18, 2016

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
If you read and loved Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk (or even if you didn’t), you might be wondering, “How do I see one of those amazing Northern Goshawks?”. It’s not that easy but in this week’s Bird Finder Nick Bonomo explains how (hint: visit a hawk watch this fall).

goshawk_northern_norbertkenntnerNorthern Goshawk
Accipter gentilis

by Nick Bonomo
What it looks like:
The Northern Goshawk is the largest member of the genus Accipiter in North America. Most closely related to the smaller Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, this bird combines features of both, but in a bigger, meaner package; all three are superbly built to hunt and eat smaller birds. Adult goshawks are very distinctive. Their combination of gray upperparts, white underparts that are finely barred, and a very strong white-and-dark head pattern is unique among local raptors. The largest females are as large as Red-tailed Hawks.

Immatures, however, pose an infamous identification problem. They appear brown and streaky like many other young hawks. Immature Cooper’s Hawks are very commonly mistaken for the much rarer Northern Goshawk. At this age, look for the bird’s bulky proportions; Cooper’s Hawk looks lankier and thinner-bodied than the robust goshawk. A Northern Goshawk’s wings have longer secondaries than a Cooper’s, which gives the wings a bulge along the trailing edge in flight while giving the impression of a broader-winged bird overall. Also note the density of the streaking below, as Goshawks are heavily streaked while Cooper’s have thinner streaks thus appear paler below.

Where and when to find it: Unlike the more suburban Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk is a forest-dwelling species that tends to be much more reclusive than its smaller Accipiter cousins. If you’re exceedingly lucky, you may come across a goshawk in or near dense woodland at any time of year. They are known as ferocious nest defenders, so if you accidentally enter a goshawk’s territory during the spring breeding season you may find yourself running back to your car with a screaming hawk hot on your tail.

The very best way to see a Northern Goshawk in Connecticut, however, is by visiting a hawk watch during late autumn. Anytime from now through early December, with a peak in November, you might see a goshawk migrating at such famous locations as Lighthouse Point in New Haven or Quaker Ridge in Greenwich. Typically only a handful are seen each autumn at either location, nearly always immatures, which goes to show how uncommon they really are.

Northern Goshawk (Juvenile), Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

Conservation status: Since the Northern Goshawk is the most widely distributed Accipiter in the world, occurring on four continents, it is consider a species “of Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, locally, the goshawk is susceptible to habitat loss via forest clearing and fragmentation. North American populations appear to be stable.

Photos from Norbert Kenntner, top, and Elaine R. Wilson.

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