Monday, September 22, 2014

Raptor and non-raptor count summaries 17-22 September, 2014

Female Northern Flicker
It's been another wonderful week of migration at Hawk Ridge!

Large flights of raptors occurred on three days during this past period. The 17th featured 2451 Broad-winged Hawks and a nice flight of 93 American Kestrels. After two slow days, Broad-wings were at it again when 2783 were tallied on the 20th along with 934 Sharp-shinned Hawks. A low subadult Golden Eagle put on quite a show as did two Swainson's Hawks. The following day, raptors were up early and stayed there until late in the day. In the end, 7219 Broad-winged Hawks were counted along with 821 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 126 American Kestrels, and 13 Peregrine Falcons.

It is safe to say that the flights on Hawk Weekend did not disappoint the crowds. Saturday started off a bit slow but ramped up nicely culminating in some fairly large kettles doing what Broad-winged Hawks so often don't do: come in low, kettle overhead, and glide away!

Male American Kestrel
Raptors were far from the only birds on the move this past week. Warbler diversity is on the down swing, as Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers have started to dominate. However, all sorts of other birds are just starting! Sparrow migration is ramping up along with finches, Rusty Blackbirds, American Robins, Lapland Longspurs, kinglets, etc. It's an exciting time at Hawk Ridge!

17 September produced three Red-headed Woodpeckers, over 5800 Blue Jays, and over 400 Pine Siskins. Hopefully this is the start of a large siskin flight this fall! Common Raven migration seems to have already started, as 55 were tallied.

The first two Cackling Geese of the season flew past on the 18th highlighting an otherwise slow day on the ridge.
Two Canada and two Cackling Geese. Note the smaller size and (especially) shorter neck of the Cackling Geese. These smaller geese also have a quicker wingbeat relative to Canada Geese.

The flood of American Robins that will wash over the area in the coming weeks started on 20 September when nearly 750 were counted along with another large Blue Jay flight of over 3300.

On 21 September, birds of all sorts cranked it to 11 and ripped the knob off. From sunrise to sunset, there wasn't a moment when lots of birds were not all over the sky. A nearly uncountable first hour featured over 3000 warblers, and over 5200 (mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers) were tallied by day's end. The Yellow-rumps never really stopped, and throughout the day it was easy to see some of these birds flying quite high while the counters were scanning for Broad-winged Hawk kettles! An early morning liftoff of Broad-winged Hawks also made counting raptors and non-raptors at the same time quite challenging. Northern Flickers featured prominently in the day's flight, with 479 counted along with 43 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Sandhill Cranes put on quite a show throughout the day with a day total of 298. Another Red-headed Woodpecker flew past the ridge mid-morning, and 4700 Blue Jays, 2100 White-throated Sparrows, and over 100 Catharus thrushes also participated in the flight. Wow!
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
22 September featured another good non-raptor flight, although not nearly the same intensity as the previous day. Highlights included 85 Cackling Geese (the majority of which were in two flocks), and over 4000 White-throated Sparrows. The first Harris's Sparrow appeared under the feeders on the ridge today.

Hope to see you at the ridge in the coming weeks!

Steve Kolbe
Assistant Counter

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