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Broad-winged Hawk Migration Peaking

9-17-18 juv. broadwing_U1A7043The migration of raptors has begun, and one of the first species to migrate in the fall is the Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus). While it is quite secretive when nesting, it is one of the more conspicuous species of birds when migrating.  This is for two reasons. They are one of the few North American raptors that flocks during migration, and much of their migratory behavior is concentrated in the Northeast in a two-week period around the middle of September.

Migrating Broad-wings conserve energy by frequently soaring in thermals and mountain updrafts. Flocks of birds, or “kettles”, soar up the heated columns of air, peel off and glide to the next thermal where they repeat the process. Very little wing-flapping is necessary in order to cover a lot of ground. The flocks, or “kettles,” range from several individuals to thousands of birds (larger kettles generally occur nearer their Central and South America wintering grounds).

The number of birds migrating often grows following a cold front, when winds die down and thermals increase. Fall migration of Broad-wings in the Northeast is associated with good visibility, moderate favorable winds, high temperatures, and afternoons (vs. mornings). (Photo: juvenile Broad-winged Hawk)

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4 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    That would be so awesome to see! I was happy to see a Hummingbird at a feeder about 45 min ago…didn’t see one, yesterday…I know they need to fly south, but it’s always a bit sad to wish them farewell…until next spring.

    September 17, 2018 at 9:14 am

  2. Beautiful portrait, Mary. Well-captured!

    September 17, 2018 at 9:35 pm

  3. sylviedesautels

    Mary, do you have suggestions for when and where to view migrating broadwing hawks? Thanks! Sylvie

    On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 8:03 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: “The migration of raptors has begun, and one of the > first species to migrate in the fall is the Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo > platypterus). While it is quite secretive when nesting, it is one of the > more conspicuous species of birds when migrating. This is for” >

    September 18, 2018 at 8:41 pm

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