Featured in Retired and Happy – May 15, 2010
Three people have helped me ID this bird. We do think it’s a Broad-winged Hawk. We had many books and website involved here, this was a hard one. Are we correct? I’ll be happy to change if it is wrong.
Shy and inconspicuous on its forested breeding grounds, the Broad-winged Hawk migrates in flocks that fill the skies, providing one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. In many parts of its tropical wintering grounds it is the most abundant raptor. Despite these facts, many aspects of its ecology remain poorly understood.
The Broad-winged Hawk is essentially a forest and woodland species throughout its range and at all times of year. Only pure coniferous forests are avoided. Small canopy openings, which it uses for foraging, are an important habitat component, and it often shows a preference for undisturbed, relatively young stands near water. It may roost in arid tropical scrub during migration. Winter habitat may include plantations if sufficient prey is present.
The Broad-winged Hawk is primarily a predator of small mammals and amphibians but will eat reptiles, birds, and various invertebrates opportunistically. Prey consumption tends to reflect availability. The prominence of frogs in its diet likely explains its association with water and perhaps even its migration schedule. It is a sit-and-wait, “sentinel” predator, spending much time scanning quietly for prey from perches and then swooping on it in a manner described as “catlike.” Prey is sometimes taken on the wing; dragonflies and butterflies captured in this manner likely represent a significant portion of the diet during migration. Prey is usually eaten immediately, but caching has been reported and may in fact be common.
*Photographed in Ste. Rita, Manitoba, Canada
Canon EOS Rebel XTi; Sigma 150-55mm lens @500mm