Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Other Hawks

There are tons of different types of hawks out there, most of which we don't use for falconry. The reasons for this are many, but mostly we don't use them because their natural habits and prey base are not suitable for falconers. Sometimes, their physical attributes are wrong (small feet), and sometimes they aren't too bright.

That doesn't mean that these birds are not appreciated in their own right. I love to see red shouldered hawks hunting in the trees, and Broad winged hawks are a favorite for those who watch migrating raptors.

They are numerous and easy to see. And now they are moving south.

Broad-winged hawks are reasonably easy to distinguish from other hawks.

The birds are roughly crow-sized and stocky, with females about 10 percent larger and heavier than male birds. The back is uniformly mud-brown. Underparts are off-white with brown chevrons on the chest and belly. The legs and bill are yellow. The brown chevrons on the chest are replaced by brown teardrop markings on the belly of immature birds, who also sport black “moustache marks” on the face.

Broad-winged hawks are easiest to identify when aloft: from below, note whitish wings broadly outlined in black.

The primary feathers are often drawn and tapered to a point, giving the mistaken first impression that this is a large falcon of some sort or other. And look at the tail. There should be a conspicuous broad white band – perhaps the best field mark for the species.

In fall, these quiet, unobtrusive little hawks, who summer in forests and woodlands hunting for small rodents, reptiles, and large insects, become far more social. They gather in numbers ranging from handfuls to hundreds. These bands of migrating hawks then follow ridgelines and other features that would generate thermal lift to aid them as they move on toward South America and swirl and “kettle” to great heights on the rising air currents.

Read the rest of this article here and thanks to Falconry Today.

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