Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21: Broad-winged Hawks

Three-hundred ninety-seven broad-winged hawks were counted at the Bradbury Mountain hawk watch today. That's a lot of hawks. That's a good portion of the 653 total that have been seen from the hawk watch this month. Derek Lovitch, the official counter today, commented with his report that small kettles of broad-wings were moving through early and very high, visible only against the clouds.

I wasn't outside much today, so didn't have an opportunity to look for any hawks. (Yesterday I saw, perched roadside, my first and only broad-wing of the year so far.) But I could see enough out the window to know that big, fluffy, rain-saturated cumulus clouds were rolling through all day, at one point a bit thunderously. Knowing now that hundreds of hawks were swirling overhead while I worked away at my desk is a bit disconcerting. All that motion, all those feathered bodies being pulled northward, and I wasn't a part of it in any way.

During Fall migration, hawk watchers migrate to Mexico's narrowest isthmus. Because broad-wings and many other raptors don't like to fly over water, they don't fly over the Gulf of Mexico like many other migrants heading for Central and South America. Instead, they stay above land, funneling down the body of Mexico on their way south. The birds obviously become most concentrated where the country constricts. Hawk watchers in Veracruz, a city on the Gulf side of the isthmus, have counted 100,000 broad-wings in a day, and 2 million during a season. Pretty much all the broad-wings in the world pass over this point. A small portion of those hawks traveled over Bradbury Mountain south of here today, and a portion of those traveled over my head as they followed the ridges of the Camden Hills. It was going on all morning, and I missed it. But I love thinking about it, trying to get my head around the incredible miracle of that journey.

Kettles of broad-wings
carried by rain clouds northward.
And I, unaware.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for getting my head thinking about it too. Something so exciting I would never even entertained if I hadn't checked your blog. Love it & you.