Raptor Wednesday

Last Friday and Saturday, the skies over the city were filled with Broad-winged Hawks. I missed practically all of them, but managed to photograph one of them low over Green-Wood, as it was chased by a female American Kestrel. Crappy pictures, but note the field marks: bold tail stripe, darkly-outlined wings.

Buteo playpterus is our smallest Buteo. In fact, they’re slightly smaller than American Crows. (I saw another being harried by crows and was confused because Common Ravens are roughly the size of Red-tailed Hawks.) The species is found throughout the forested eastern U.S. and Canada, although they are secretive and little seen. It’s not an urban raptor, so migration is the only likely time we see them in NYC.

In one of the great spectacles of planet earth, virtual the entire North American population, something like two million of them, pass over Vera Cruz, Mexico, in a short span of time as they rush south to wintering grounds. The birds kettling over NYC last weekend should be passing Vera Cruz late next week, unless a hurricane gets in their way…

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