Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

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  A Couple of Hawk Happenings

Published: February 20, 2019
Tags: General Observations, rough-legged hawk, red-shouldered hawk, black-capped chickadee, brown creeper, pileated woodpecker

I did a little driving around this past weekend, inspired by sun and blue skies!  I was happy to finally see a Rough-legged Hawk in my home county.  The only other Rough-legged I've seen this winter was over in Wyoming County (A Wyoming County Nemesis Conquered »)  They've been scarce this winter and I have to wonder why that is...

Rough-leggeds come in two phases, or morphs: light and dark.  This bird was a dark morph, unlike the one I saw in Wyoming County.  It was perched on a thin branch of a short tree where I found it surveying a farm field.  This species favors perching on these thin branches, which I find quite interesting as they are no small bird!  I watched him just sit there for awhile - and then my patience was soon rewarded with this beautiful raptor lifting off and hovering over the field as it hunted for rodents.  It was so nice to see its contrasting light and dark underside, showing off the banded tail that let me know it was a male.  I admired him for several minutes before he  circled higher and higher, soon leaving my field of vision.  These are powerful, Arctic raptors, with great stamina so I imagine they have a wide hunting range.

I also came upon a couple of small flocks of Horned Larks; it's nice to see that they've returned to the area.  Another Red-shouldered Hawk, even more cooperative than the one I saw a couple of weeks ago, was another nice sighting.  The gorgeous adult nearly glowed its rich orange, black and white coloring in the sunshine with that beautiful blue sky behind it.  I don't think there are many raptors more beautiful than this species.  The hawk tolerated my presence as I slowed my car to a stop a short ways off from where it sat on a utility pole, cocking its head one way and then the other as it listened for rodents and songbird activity.  In spite of the sun, it was bitter cold and I think this hawk was intent on catching something to eat - perhaps a little more bold since finding prey in this weather is difficult for any raptor.  I hope it fared well...

Back at home, I've had a Brown Creeper coming to the yard.  The other day, it came upon a seed cake I have hanging on the Maple tree near the feeders.  It helped itself to quite a bit, even sitting on the deck railing where some of the seed had fallen.  It's a rare treat to see this species up close, let alone eating seed!

Another treat was a Pileated Woodpecker's visit this morning.  I haven't seen either of the pair that regularly visits in a few weeks.  This female was fun to watch as her red crest of feathers was blowing quite wildly in the wind.  It's good to have her back!

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A dark Rough-legged Hawk perched next to a farm field

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The roughie treated me to a show of him hovering over the field as he looked for rodents.

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The cooperative (tolerant) Red-shouldered Hawk

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The Red-shouldered Hawk listening for bird or rodent activity

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This Brown Creeper was eating seed just moments before - an unusual thing for me to see.

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Just a cute Black-capped Chickadee who posed nearby...

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Not a great photo, but this Red Fox was a treat to see as my two girls and four of my grandchildren and I took a hike this past weekend.

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I was enjoying watching the female Pileated Woodpecker's red tuft of feathers blowing in the wind as she ate from a suet cake.

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Pileated Woodpecker

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