Our New Neighbor

I have not had much chance to do a post – but this little note might start me up again.

We have had a pair of Broad-winged Hawks (Buteo platypterus) nesting in the yard, or neighborhood, for a few years. Mostly they are quiet neighbors and seen infrequently once the eggs are laid. However this year there are two youngsters and the adult(s) have been strafing the area for well over a month as the youngsters slowly develop survival skills. The parent birds fly down from a tree perch and sweep over your head ruffling your hair. They have been doing this much longer that they should. Usually the young are out of the nest and on branches for a week or so and the adults patrol the area. But this has gone on for a rather long time. Perhaps the young are slow learners….

The Broad-wing is a small forest hawk that migrates well south of the US in the off season. In April’s past I have seen them in the tens of thousands migrating north back into the US to breed, crossing down near the Rio Grande River along the Texas/Mexico border. Once back in the woodlands where they will nest they are usually inconspicuous and quiet. Even when they are calling and making noise they are generally squeaky and high pitched; a sound often overlooked in the woods.

This is a blown up image of one of the youngsters sitting and whining for parental help.
This is the same bird waiting and watching near the bird feeders. This hawk will take all sorts of smallish animals; birds, mammals, reptiles, and large insects as well.
This is one of the adults looking over the area for a nesting site. The banded tail of an adult shows here and then again in the less crisp image below. In many species the wing tips reach to or past the end of the tail – not so with the Broad-wing.
In migration the breeding birds return earlier than the one year old birds which are less likely to breed. As they group up waiting for good winds, prior to crossing a lake they will form large kettles. The adults pass by and then a couple weeks later the yearling birds arrive. The one year old birds are often molting wing feathers (primaries) and central tail feathers as well. This gives these first year birds obvious translucent “windows” in the wings and a “swallow-tailed” tail. This is seen in late May and June as the younger birds move northward. The bird shown above is termed a “light adult” as there are darker forms – though dark birds are much less common. Light birds have dark borders (edges) to the wings and a broad white band in the tail..

4 thoughts on “Our New Neighbor

  1. now I bet you want to write about your sisters Cooper’s hawk…and family 😉
    loved the piece Dave, and your pictures are always amazing…
    love you.N


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