Spring Migration Starting, Red-Shouldered Hawk

We’ve been seeing some warblers this past week, not that they’ll sit still long enough for me to identify them. And the geese are trading up and down Cutcane Creek, to and from the old quarry. The Georgia Rare Bird Alert also shows some warblers, along with a Baltimore Oriole in both Fulton and Gwinnett. Reports from Indiana indicate that some migrant waterfowl are arriving in the northern part of the state (Eagle Marsh, south of Fort Wayne). It all says to me that the spring migration is starting.

There was some excitement in the birding community in the past few days, with a Golden Eagle spotted in Walker County. That’s a bird that’s rather rare in Georgia.

Here’s the info on signing up for the Georgia reports. I usually glance at it, even though I’m not much of a birder, because it gives me an idea of what to be on the lookout for here.

“You must be a subscriber to post to GABO-L.
Instructions for subscribing (and the guidelines) are found here:
http://www.gos.org/georgia-birders-online Please read the guidelines before posting.”

I did have a small birding thrill the other day, when a Red-shouldered Hawk flew up on a limb in the backyard just as I happened to be looking out the window. We see that bird quite often when we’re out and around, and it’s easy to identify, at least when the tailfeathers are spread, because it has three stripes on its tail. The most similar hawk – one we also see quite often – is the Broad-winged Hawk, and it only has one – wider – tail stripe. Along with the usually much larger Red-tailed Hawk, these are the most common hawks in our area. (Sibley’s range maps show the Red-shouldered and Red-tailed as year-round residents, and the Broad-winged as a summer resident.) We also see the Northern Harrier regularly during migration periods. They’re the ones with the distinctive white spot just above their tail. We see the other hawks in our area only occasionally, and the same goes for the Merlin.

The Red-shouldered was obliging enough to hang around until I got my binoculars, and I got a really good look at the bird and the red shoulders for the first time. The colors were amazing, with the red shoulders looking almost like epaulets. It was quite an impressive bird at close range.

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