Four Broad-winged Hawks

Early yesterday morning (Monday morning) the grass, shrubs and pavement all were wet from unexpected overnight rain. In the northeast, through a screen of trees, a shimmering red round sun was rising through the remnants of rain clouds. As I walked, blue sky seemed to spread and open as the clouds drifted on, and by the time I got back home about an hour and a half later, the sky was completely clear with only high white wispy clouds, and still some lingering mist or fog in low places.

Birds seemed rather quiet, though, especially to begin with. The whreep of a Great Crested Flycatcher. The spee of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Bluebirds, Chipping Sparrows and House Finches active just about everywhere. Robins scattered out in grassy yards.

When I began to climb the hill toward the area where the Broad-winged Hawks usually have been I didn’t hear their calls at first – then heard one high whistle from across the road and up the hill a little further. As I headed in that direction, one Broad-winged Hawk flew from a group of trees at the edge of a yard, across the road in front of me at about treetop level, and away toward the northwest. Though the morning light made its breast look red, the tail was not spread out and it was quickly gone, so I couldn’t tell for sure if it was an adult or a juvenile.

A minute later, I heard the whistles of one, then two more Broad-winged Hawks coming from the same cluster of trees, and found two there, moving restlessly from one treetop to another, as if disturbed by something. Before I could get a really close look, one – two – three Broad-winged Hawks flew out of the trees and across the road and away toward the northwest, whistling EEEE-yuurr as they flew. Even though I did not see them close enough to be sure, it seems likely that this had been two juveniles and two adults. All I could say was, Wow!

Later in the day, I emailed a good neighbor who lives close to that spot, and who is also interested in birds – and unfortunately found out that yes, he and his family have also seen the Broad-winged Hawks, especially the juveniles. Turns out the young hawks have been checking out the chickens in a pen in the back yard, and – needless to say – the chickens are not at all happy about their attentions.

So I guess that’s one good thing about the likelihood that the Broad-winged Hawks should be leaving on migration soon – and even before they’re finally gone, they’ll probably be spending more and more time soaring and ranging further from their nest area. I’m a little sad to see them go, but it’s been fun to watch them in these late days of summer, and I’ve been delighted to find that a pair successfully nested in these woods. Can’t ask for much more than that – and I’m sure the chickens will be much relieved once the hawks are on their way to Central or South America.

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