Sept.1 New Month Brings Sharpshinned Hawks

From past experience I thought there could be a small movement of birds today,irreguardless of the weather conditions. Between 9am and 1pm I saw 22 raptors. Sharpshinned Hawks popped up in a popular spot,just over the big Poplar tree on the side of the bluffs. Year to year they seem to appear there most often. There were 21 Sharpshinned Hawks which all appeared there today. There were several sets of 3 or 4 together. Often this time of year juvenile Sharpshins migrate with their siblings,adults fly later independant of the young. Ive always seen this as quite amazing,that first year birds migrate without guidance from adults,arriving at their wintering areas,having never been there before. This is not unique to Sharpshinned Hawks. Adults "chase" the young from natal areas,forcing them to be on their own. I also suspect in the cases of some species that adults stay later into the migration season and indeed overwinter,as they are more proficient hunters and can find food despite fewer food sources being available(some prey migrates,other prey "hibernates"). The only non-Sharpshin was an American Kestrel,being harassed by a Sharpie.
Watch for Sharpshinned Hawks to be "attacking" each other as they migrate,this isnt uncommon. Another thing to watch for with Sharpies is when there is a large movement of Blue Jays,Sharpshins sort of sneak in among them. Another visual clue to watch for that alerts watchers to the prescence of a bird of prey on the way,is when smaller birds like Goldfinch or Waxwings,even Jays make a sudden dive into a tree or an abrupt turn and land in a tree. Most people know to listen for and watch Crows,they often act as an raptor early warning system. One further hint is to watch for pigeons to scatter. Definetly in the city,there are pigeons around. They take flight at the mere hint of a raptor in the area,even ones that are of no real danger to them. Today for example a dozen pigeons took flight and I watched the sky closely. Sure enough,4 Sharpshinned Hawks came into view in short order. Watching for visual clues can help spot raptors and add to your enjoyment.
Todays totals were
21-Sharpshinned Hawks
1-American Kestrel
This brings our season total to 203.

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