Saturday, April 30, 2011

Broad-winged Hawk

For my second stop this morning I visited Lair O' the Bear park in Bear Creek Canyon. Compared to the feeder station at Red Rocks it was quiet, and my walk was beginning to seem uneventful, when I spotted a raptor perched in a tree just ahead. I had no angle on which to walk to improve my view so I dropped to a knee and shot a few frames in rapid succession. As I looked I thought that the horizontal barring on the breast looked unusual. The bird seemed smallish, but it wasn't right for a Cooper's or Sharpie. It didn't appreciate my having walked on the trail near its tree and was soon off.

I knew I had something as I watched it fly off, but it dropped into the trees before I got a long look. My thoughts turned to Broad-winged Hawk,but having no experience with the species I wasn't sure as I continued around the loop. Poor planning on the bird's part lead him to keep perching in trees along the trail, and I would see it moving off ahead through the trees along the creek. Finally, a Red-tailed Hawk had enough, and used the wind for a bit of dive bombing on the interloper.

The Broad-winged was off, perhaps to continue migrating, or just seeking a more quiet place to perch. Even from a distance this bird is distinctive. Adult birds feature the single prominent white bar on their tails. The black trailing edge on light wings helps to seal the identification.

A long sought raptor on my 'needs' list now seen. I was really excited to find this bird on a non-targeted hike, and to have my best guess for an identity confirmed when I returned to my guide at the parking area.

2011 Count: 123
Lifetime: 255

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