Wednesday, May 19, 2010

broad winged hawk?

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Sometimes a bad picture is better than no picture at all.

I saw this raptor two days ago when I was out on a lake about 20 miles north of St. Paul, MN, doing a vegetation survey. The trash barrel the bird is perched on is about 100 feet from the water's edge at a campground/marina. At first I thought it was one of those owl decoys people sometimes put on their docks to keep the gulls away, but a look through the binoculars confirmed it was a real live bird! I snapped this photo with the office camera, which only has about 4x optical zoom. Even so, the photo turned out good enough with some zooming and cropping.

I didn't have a field guide with me, and my first thought was Cooper's hawk. But after looking at the photo, and comparing it with Sibley's, I knew it had to be something different. The facial markings did not match those of a Cooper's, and although the size was within range this bird seemed chunkier, not very accipiter-like. For size perspective, those seams on the side of the barrel are probably 15 or 16 inches apart.

I didn't even think of looking at the broad winged hawk in the field guide; I had only seen them in flight. But when I saw the illustration in Sibley's I thought, "That's IT!"

What do you think?

By the way, the weather was just as sunny and gorgeous as it looks in the photo. It's 80 degrees today. I just put the snow shovel away last weekend. That's Minnesota in May!


webb said...

That is one chunky hawk! Never seen anything like it - here in eastern land anyway. Great picture.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

It sure looks like the broad winged that hung around Hasty last summer.

Floridacracker said...

Can't ID it, but snow shovels in May! ACK!

Deb said...

Webb- I don't know what their range is, and I don't have a bird book handy...but I'm thinking this is one of those birds I've always seen, but never really seen.

Lynne- That's enough of a confirmation for me!

By the way, Gordy's Hi Hat in Cloquet is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year. We were there Saturday.

FC- I didn't even blog about it because I was so depressed. Two weeks ago we had a significant snowstorm that left a few inches of white stuff on the ground. Nothing but 80's in the forecast for a few days now. From one extreme to another!

elise said...

It does look like a broad winged hawk. We've had a pair nesting in our area for a few years now but this is the first year I've actually seen the nest. It's quite close to our house and exciting. I haven't gone super close to the nest since I don't want to stress them. For us, we were able to make a definite identification one we heard of their cries.