Greetings from the snowy Midwest. We are getting our first real dump of the year and it is a heavy one. This is somewhat fitting being that this week has been heavy on the heart. We lost our little buddy Kerby this week and it has left a mighty hole – he was a champion in the agility ring and more importantly in our lives. I’ll never forget our time together. Keeping busy always helps me through tough times so no better way than generating new +1’s for the birding checklist. Today’s feature once again comes from our last September trip to Colorado.
That, my friends, is a fine specimen of Swainson’s Hawk. Normally Hawk identification is a herculean effort just short of trying to distinguish juvenile Sparrows. It is fairly easy to figure out the easy ones like Red-Tails, but the rest bunch up in their characteristics to the point we end up having to flip a coin. This was the case here where I really wasn’t sure what this one was until my brother Ron came to the rescue. He has a really nice reference book to aid in Hawk IDs (sorry, can’t remember the name at the moment) and had recently found/joined a Facebook page specific to assisting in the ID process. You will not find a better resource than a community devoted to a specific type of bird. Ron offered to give it a try on a set of fuzzy pictures we had taken by the side of a road on the Colorado plains. I’ll get to those pictures at the end – opted to go with a better set at the start for the bulk of the post.
The pictures you are seeing here came from another observation at a filling station outside of Denver. We had pulled in for a quick stop to give the dogs a break and top the tank off. As we pulled into the pump area this bird caught my eye. It was literally hovering over a construction site between the station and the highway. The fact it was just staying in one spot gave me an early impression it was a Harrier. This changed once the Beast was on point and could make out the more distinctive features of the bird. Turns out there was a healthy headwind it was leveraging to keep focus on a particular area alongside the construction. After about a minute it dropped the daggers and dove for the ground.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about this Hawk and view a few more shots.