Friday, October 25, 2013

Swainson's Hawk stops by...

Right on cue for New Jersey Audubon's Autumn Weekend, something special stopped by to wish us well - a Swainson's Hawk, which put on a spectacular display for the assembled masses for two days before setting its sights on Delaware and heading out across the bay. Swainson's Hawks are common raptors west of the Mississippi, from where they should head south on a long, long migration that takes them right down into southern South America. However, the westerly airflows that often predominate at this time of year can push one or two birds over to the east coast and this species is almost annual at Cape May; indeed, some years there may be several.

A dark morph bird that passed our way a few days ago didn't hang out too long at Cape May Point, but this weekend's bird was much more obliging, as it visited the Hawkwatch Platform area several times on Friday, then excelled itself today by spinning around on a thermal over The Beanery with both a Bald and a Golden Eagle!

The Bird Show looks set to continue tomorrow, with ideal migration conditions forecast for overnight. If you're in town, I suggest being out early tomorrow morning to enjoy the show - then hurry along to Cape May Convention Hall on Beach Avenue to enjoy all the indoor events, vendors and fun that can be found there.

Dull gray skies and the fact that it was late in the day didn't help me to achieve mind-blowing shots of such a fabulous bird as this Swainson's Hawk, but you get the idea! [Photos by Mike Crewe]
Swainson's Hawks are very elegant Buteos - long-winged, long-tailed and with a narrow 'hand'. Light morph juveniles like this one tend to have a warm, rusty wash to the underparts [photo by Mike Crewe].