Broad-winged Hawk

Hey guys, welcome back. Today is one of the smaller species in the hawk genus of buteo. You might think, based on its name, that the broad-winged hawk can be easily identified by its supposedly broad wings. And while the wings are maybe a bit broader in comparison to larger cousins the red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, they don’t really look any broader, especially when not seeing another bird side by side. They have reddish-brown heads and barring of the same color on their breasts. When viewed from below, their wings are bordered by a dark brown edge. They have broadly striped black and white tails as well.

My first number of broad-winged hawk sightings were in Central Park during raptor migration. Every year in September and late October, raptors gather and head south. One of the more famous migrations is with broad-winged hawks. While I never personally got to see the spectacle, broad-wings often form huge groups (known as kettles) sometimes numbering in the thousands and head to South America together. Places like Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania are great hawk-watching spots.

Here in Ohio, I hadn’t seen any until this past summer. The southern shore of Lake Erie is a great birding spot for many species. It is not, however, a great spot for hawk migration. One day while at work, a small hawk flew over. I figured it was a red-shouldered, as they’re most common. But it looked smaller and just looked off. Then, I heard an extremely high-pitched, piercing call. That’s when I knew I was seeing a broad-winged. It turned out to be one of a nesting pair that spent the summer in the park. And although it was still flying, it was the best look I’ve gotten. That is except for Manuel, the broad-winged hawk that lives at the wildlife center in our park. He’s the little guy seen in the pictures of this post. He had broken his wing, and now lives as an animal ambassador, since he is unable to fly. From the skies to the marsh, Virginia Rail is next. See you then!

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