Posts Tagged ‘Michael Aurelia’


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.


Red-eyed Vireo

Friday, June 2nd, 2017
June 2, 2017
Red-Eyed Vireo
Vireo olivaceus

by Michael Aurelia, Connecticut Audubon Society Board of Directors
The Red-Eyed Vireo is widely distributed throughout Connecticut wherever forested habitats are present. This bird prefers to forage and nest in deciduous forests and is a very successful breeder throughout the state. A large chunky bird, the Red-Eyed Vireo has an angular head, thick neck with a long thick bill with a hook at the end. It is a “warbler like” bird.

Its song can be heard as “here I am, in the tree, look up, at the top,” and the singing can continue for quite a while. This time of the year the Red-Eyed Vireo is not difficult to find in the right habitat.

What it Looks Like: The Red-Eyed Vireo is a small stocky, olive green songbird with a white belly and eyebrow and a dark stripe through the eye. It also has a gray cap but the red eye is frequently difficult to see. The three typical colors for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Merlin ID application are gray, black and white.

Where and How to Find It: This vireo can be found in almost any type of broad-leafed forested habitat. The bird can be difficult to see because it is usually searching for caterpillars in the tops of trees after leaf-out. But if it’s there, you will hear it.

To find the most recent reports of this vireo, go to – Explore Data: species maps function, and insert “Red-Eyed Vireos”
Date: year around current year
Location: Connecticut.

Again, because it is a tireless songster you will usually hear the bird before you see it.

Other interesting facts: Red-Eyed Vireos migrate from the eastern half of the United States to the Amazon Basin east of the Andes. There is no shortage of breeding pairs in Connecticut. According to the 1994 Breeding Bird Atlas, breeding occurred in 94.6% of all surveyed blocks.

Conservation Status: The Red-Eyed Vireo’s status in Connecticut can be described as stable. As forest habitat returned to Connecticut over the last century, the bird’s numbers increased. There may have been some decline in populations as forests have become more fragmented in recent years, however.

On the national level the IUCN indicates the Red-Eyed Vireos status is of Least Concern and the population trend is increasing.

Bird Finder for January 13, 2017: Saw-whet Owl

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Westham Island, Ladner, British Columbia

Northern Saw-whet Owl
Aegolius acadicus

by Michael Aurelia, member of the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Board of Directors
The Northern Saw-whet Owl is widely distributed throughout Connecticut wherever large tracts of forested land are present. These forests can be deciduous, coniferous or mixed. Saw-whet owls are the smallest of our owls and weigh about as much as a robin.

Because saw-whets are preyed upon by larger raptors including Eastern Screech, Barred and Great Horned Owls, you seldom hear them calling when other owls are present. When walking in forested habitat at night or early in the morning, you are more likely to hear a saw-whet owl before you see one. Their call is a “too-too-too-too” that can continue for quite a while. You can hear it here, on the Cornell Ornithology Lab website. The call supposedly sounds like a saw being whetted (a sound we’re not likely to hear much these days), hence the name.

Saw-whet owls are not that common across the state though individuals have been reported on numerous times in the past year.
What it looks like: The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a very small, brownish-white owl without ear tufts. Both the male and female look similar although the female is slightly larger. Juveniles and adults have a distinctive white “V” between their eyes on the facial disc.
Where and how to find It: This owl is almost always found in forested areas with an open understory and usually near wooded swamps or riparian habitats. The more mature the woods the better, because owls like large trees with plenty of cavities. This little owl is not easy to spot because it likes to roost in thick evergreen trees or shrubs during the day. Look for a “white wash” near the trunk of the plant.

To find the most recent reports of this owl, go to and choose Explore Data and then “species maps”; insert “Northern Saw-whet Owl.” Then for the date, choose “year around current year” and for the location, Connecticut. During the winter this little owl can usually be found in Fairfield County at Greenwich Point Park or Sherwood Island State Park. They’ve also been seen this winter at Hammonasset Beach State Park, in Madison, and Haley Farm State Park, in New London.

It is important to note that saw-whet owls roost quietly in trees during the day and can seem tame. They are not. Do not disturb them, do not get too close, and absolutely do not attempt to touch them: stories abound of foolhardy people being impaled with a saw-whet owl talon.

Other interesting facts: Saw-whet owls are in the same genus as the Boreal Owl. Although this owl can be an opportunistic predator it usually catches small mammals, mainly mice. The literature indicates pairs are monogamous and the female is slightly larger than the male. There are not many confirmed records of this little owl nesting in Connecticut.
Conservation Status: The saw-whet owl’s status in Connecticut can best described as stable. As forest habitat returned to Connecticut over the last century, the owl’s numbers increased. The northwest corner of the state has been identified as an area where the owl is likely breeding.

The key to protecting this little owl in Connecticut is to conserve large forested habitats near wetlands and watercourses. On the national level the IUCN indicates the saw-whet owl’s status is of Least Concern but the population trend is decreasing.

Photo: Alan D. Wilson,
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Top of Page