Here’s one more shot of the red-tailed hawk that we saw during the Christmas Bird Count on Sunday in Norwalk, Connecticut. We were looking for warblers among the pine trees and this bird flew in out of nowhere to entertain us for a bit.
It was a gray day that turned into a snowy day that turned into a misty, gray day. The weather never fails to be part of the story of a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in New England. Yesterday (Sunday) was the annual CBC in my area and, as usual, I covered the Norwalk (Conn.) coastline and parts inland with Frank Mantlik, one of Connecticut”s top birders. We tallied 61 species, which will be combined with the other birds spotted by the Count’s other teams. Highlights included northern shoveler, northern pintail, prairie warbler, pine warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, northern harrier, merlin and horned lark. Full story coming in my For the Birds column. In the meantime, here’s what the Christmas Bird Count is all about.
About three years ago I got a photo of a red-tailed hawk in an evergreen tree across the road from Brookfield High School in SW Connecticut. Yesterday, I was able to photograph another hawk in the same tree — this one a red-shouldered hawk.
There is often confusion between the two species as they are both large birds of the genus buteo. Throw in the broad-winged hawk and there’s even more confusion with three common buteos to be found in New England. (There are others, too, but not as commonly seen.)
The red-tailed hawk is the largest and broad-winged the smallest, but size is of little help in the field — unless, of course, individuals of all three species are perched next to each other, which never happens. I find the easiest way to distinguish the red-shouldered hawk is with its reddish or rusty chest and belly. Young birds, however, have tan or brown chests and bellies, similar to the other buteos in question.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a shot of the red-tailed hawk I photographed in the same tree in 2016.
I know it’s not your traditional Christmas greeting photo with a Northern Cardinal sitting on an evergreen bough as snow covers the background. But whoever said I follow the rules all the time?
I got these photos the other day while driving through Brookfield, Conn., as the sun was rising for the day. The scene was awash in the golden light of the dawn and the Red-tailed Hawk stood out clear as day on the dark green evergreen.
Merry Christmas and happy holiday to those who view and enjoy http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com. Thanks for your support!
I know I wrote in my first post about the Red-tailed Hawk that it would be a two-parter. I couldn’t resist, however, throwing this one up on the site, too. It’s a hawk’s world.
Here’s the second post about the Red-tailed Hawk I found at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn. the other day. The previous post explains the story, so here’s the photos of the impressive bird without the wind blowing its plumage.It is, however, preening and then looking back at me menacingly.
Here’s the first of a two-part post about a Red-tailed Hawk I found at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., last week. These photos will show the hawk with gusts of wind blowing its plumage.
I was focused on a tree near the beach that had a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Downy Woodpecker in it. I thought I was getting good shots of the nuthatch, but when I checked the screen on my camera, the results were always subpar. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong, but I just wasn’t nailing it. Then I looked in an adjacent tree and spotted a much larger subject. Since I had been in that spot for several minutes, the hawk clearly did not mind that I was there. I gave up on the nuthatch and turned my attention toward the Red-tailed hawk.
I took several photos of the hawk in the tree and it eventually flew to a nearby structure where I was able to get a few more shots as the hawk seemingly watched a foursome play paddle tennis. The wind was whipping pretty good that day, making for some interesting shots of the hawk. The next posting (coming in the next day or two) will show the hawk under calmer conditions.
A local cemetery is often fruitful when it comes to finding birds. This day was no exception as literally hundreds of juncos and other small sparrows scattered as I drove slowly along the narrow roads.
I almost missed the highlight of the short birding trip, though. I glanced to my right just in time to see a Red-tailed Hawk on the ground a few dozen yards away. I hit the brakes and backed up just a touch. A Red-tailed Hawk on the ground usually means it is eating. Such was the case as this raptor was picking apart a freshly-killed Gray Squirrel. I watched for a bit, snapped a few photos and left the hawk to its meal. They aren’t called birds of prey for nothing.
More photos below:
This Red-tailed Hawk perched in the backyard during a recent steamy day in southern New England. I like the way it is showing its feathers while perched on the top of a recently cut-down tree.