Saturday, June 30, 2012

Broad-wings on Broadmeade

Last weekend I was walking down Broadmeade for exercise on Sunday morning when Lance Turner saw me and called me over. He wanted to show me the hawks in his yard. Right away I heard one vocalizing and recognized it as a Broad-winged Hawk. We saw at least two birds, one juvenile and one adult. This morning I returned with my camera and got a few decent photos. Here's the adult.

Broad-winged Hawk - 3

Lance showed me what was probably their nest and I didn't doubt it.
Back in 2008 another neighbor exactly across the street pointed out a hawk nest to me that turned out to be Broad-wings. (Here's one of my blog posts about that.) Since then I've heard and sometimes seen Broad-winged Hawks in our neighborhood every summer. These hawks are migratory, so they're only here in the summer. They winter in central America and the northern half of south America. They migrate in flocks, and sometimes these flocks are huge -- imagine thousands of birds in a single "kettle" riding a thermal to gain altitude. (Here's a photo of one of these kettles taken by Jeff Whitlock on the Texas coast.)

Austin is at the southwestern edge of Broad-winged Hawk breeding range, so it's very interesting that they've been so consistently here summer-to-summer. Some older range maps show the breeding range to end quite a bit further east, so I assume this species is expanding it. Here's the juvenile bird I photographed this morning.

Juvenile Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawks have a very distinctive call which you can listen to here. I encourage you to learn it and listen for it in our neighborhood. These birds are often much easier to hear than see since they often stay high in the dense tree canopy. They are similar to (but a little smaller than) our year-round resident Red-shouldered Hawks that also nest in the trees among our houses.

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