Friday, September 9, 2011

Hawk-watch season

Lynn and Sue out on a West Campus hawkwatch. All of today's photos from my camera (S. Hochgraf)

Four days of rain lends itself neither to bird activity nor birding activities, so we were very happy to get out for an hour at lunchtime today (Friday) to scan the clear skies for migrating raptors.

Our efforts yielded one American Kestrel, one Cooper's Hawk and one possible Northern Harrier, and both last and least, more than a half dozen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The local Red-tailed Hawks, Ospreys and Herring Gulls added to the oh-so-blue skies.

Weather reports earlier in the week indicated the winds today would be from the northwest, which helps push all migrants along - instead it was from the southwest, so, not much was moving.

The regular bird activity for the week of Sept. 6-9, 2011 - as much as we could see between raindrops:

Double-crested Cormorant
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
5. Mourning Dove
Northern Flicker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
10. American Crow
Blue Jay
European Starling
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
15. Northern Cardinal
Song Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Common Grackle
House Sparrow

Hawkwatchers with charts of raptor silhouettes - even so, we still miss some identifications.

The raptor list:
20. Osprey
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
25. American Kestrel
Bald Eagle

Migration is an amazing fall spectacle to us birders, but for the birds, especially the small passerines, it's fraught with dangers - some of which we create right here on West Campus with our large expanses of glass.
A Chestnut-sided Warbler hit a window just this morning - one of those sad moments when we exclaim that we haven't yet seen this species alive here on campus.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Dendroica pensylvanica, in fall plumage.

A neotropical migrant, this species leaves its eastern North American breeding grounds in August, passes over the Gulf of Mexico, and winters in Central America. The migratory flights take place at night and usually end by dawn, but there can be limited daytime movement after landing. This individual was probably exhausted after a night of flying, took refuge here on campus and during rest or foraging became disoriented or was disturbed and flew into the window.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, Dendroica pensylvanica, in fall plumage.

The dorsal plumage has an indescribably brilliant quality - somewhere between neon green and green-gold and emerald green - and contrasted with the clear white breast and belly, it's a spectacular little warbler.


  1. Sue you missed some of the raptors that were on the list! Add Red-shouldered Hawk and Osprey to the totals. Then the late showing of... Broad-winged Hawk! First of the season!

  2. right, got it - and there were MANY osprey this afternoon
    thanks Lynn