Hawk Watch, April 17 — Harlan’s!

It was snowing as I left for the hawk watch in the morning, so the day started out pretty grim. The first few hours were cold and slow. Around noon, the activity started to increase. Raptors came in pretty steady after that, and at 4:00pm, the 100% cloud cover completely cleared to a nice blue sky. This created an influx of migrants later in the day than normal, so I stayed until 6:00pm when the activity stopped. The birds were flying very high all day today, and many times were not visible to the naked eye. The day definitely got progressively better as it went on, especially when around 5:15pm Steve spotted a dark-morph adult Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk coming our way! This is a predominantly western subspecies which breeds in Alaska and winters in the west USA, rarely east of the Mississippi. Although they are annual winter residents in Illinois (where I’m from), our bird represents only the 5th state record for Michigan!

Highlights: Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, at least 2 Northern Red-tailed Hawks, 4 immature Golden Eagles, a Cooper’s Hawk sparring with a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and the male Rusty Blackbird singing near us throughout the day.

Turkey Vulture – 108
Osprey – 4
Bald Eagle – 5
Northern Harrier – 8
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 29
Cooper’s Hawk – 1
Broad-winged Hawk – 31
Red-tailed Hawk – 144
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Golden Eagle – 4

Sandhill Crane – 22
Common Loon – 3

Dark-morph adult Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis harlani)

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