The Migration Continues!

Sharp-shinned Hawk photo
by Darlene Knox
Red-shouldered Hawk photo
by Darlene Knox

Adult Bald Eagle photo by Paul Fusco
My posting yesterday promised an update of the bird migration activity that I expected to encounter in the afternoon after I sent out the post. At the time I figured that we would mainly find more migrant waterfowl. While we did find birds in this group, it was the raptors that proved more interesting. They were obviously staging a migration yesterday. The first one that I encountered was a Sharp-shinned Hawk that came in from the south, buzzed all of the birds at the Museum's Bird Observatory Feeders, and then spiraled upward after failing to catch anything. It continued northeastward out of sight. Within minutes of this sighting, I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk calling. I saw it come in from the southwest, soar and circle overhead, and headed due north. About 5 minutes after this bird disappeared, a second Red-shoulder appeared on the southwest horizon, soared overhead while calling constantly, and headed off to the northeast. After another 5 minutes had elapsed, a third Red-shoulder appeared appeared in the southern sky. It was also calling, and followed the same flight path as the second one. Two hours later, while working along N. Shore Rd., Jim Kandefer, John Eykelhoff, and I saw a total of 5 Red-tailed Hawks. Four of them (2 pairs) were likely residents by their locations and behavior. The fifth was an immature bird that flew and soared over us from southwest to northeast without stopping. It was likely a migrant. A little while later, we saw an adult male Cooper's Hawk fly past us, hit the ground, and come up with a small mammal that looked like a vole. It carried the critter deeper into the woods of Wheeler Hill, where we lost sight of it. On our way back to Pt. Folly we saw the Canada Geese and Ring-necked Ducks rise up in a panic. Swooping over them was an adult male Bald Eagle. It failed to catch anything, and landed in a tree on the Point. It perched there for several minutes before taking off and disappearing around the Point. We re-located it about 20 minutes later sitting on the ice off Deer Island. It was still there as of the time we left. As for the waterfowl, the Northern Pintails and most of the other birds mentioned in the previous post were still off Pt. Folly, but Canada Goose numbers had dropped sharply to 260. Since we stayed along the road watching for them until dark, and they failed to materialize, it is highly likely that they have migrated farther north. By contrast, Wood Duck numbers had increased to 29. Most of them were found feeding under the shrubs in the Bantam Lake Outlet area. We also saw a Great Blue Heron opposite the Pt. Folly observation platform, and heard and saw 4 American Woodcock displaying in the Bantam R. Field. In the non-bird category, we heard our first Northern Spring Peepers of the year calling from 3 spots along N. Shore Rd., and we saw a total of 5 Muskrats in various spots.

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