Sunday, October 13, 2013

Week 41 Florida Keys Hawkwatch

7 Oct 2013 to 12 Oct 2013

The first part of my annual trek to the Florida Keys Hawkwatch was very exciting, as is usual for this fabulous venue.  I'll be going back in a short time for round two.

On 8 October, we had a fallout occur after some weather moved through.  Between 200 to 300pm, the weather system also brought a very large number of songbirds.  114 Peregrine Falcons were counted after 200pm and in the sky with them were thousands of songbirds.

I witnessed numerous songbirds being attacked in the air, including a Peregrine Falcon that stooped on a songbird, did a complete loop head on in relation to me, then stooped a gain after completing the loop.

When the day's counting was over, Rafael, Colleen and I did a short walk around the site, and in a small plot of land no bigger than the average suburban homesite, we had 16 warbler species, a flycatcher, a Baltimore Oriole, two grosbeak species, vireos, et al.

One of the many birds we saw after the fallout, a Baltimore Oriole.

Hey, where's my chestnut?  This Chestnut-sided Warbler is a hatch year female, lacking the chestnut stripe on its side that males and adults have.  This is one of the 16 warbler species we saw in a small area, most of them in one tree.

Green Iguana in the green.

No easy feeding for this guy.  He just loved hovering while eating.

Spectacular air show put on by a Short-tailed Hawk

For three days during this week at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch, a Short-tailed Hawk put on an incredible display of kiting, parachuting and stooping.  We were fortunate to have one remain close and it rewarded us with an air show for the ages.
In this image, it is soaring.  When kiting, this raptor is near motionless in the sky.  We watched it kite then we thrilled to see it "parachute" -- descending in a slow fall.
Here, the hawk is parachuting,  legs hanging down with talons ready to go to work, and falling slowly toward its prey.  In an instant, it will then fold its wings back like a Peregrine Falcon and stoop on its prey. 


  1. Robert,

    It must have been amazing to see the Short-tailed Hawk kiting, parachuting and stooping. That is one raptor that might make me forget to click the shutter button.

    1. Hi Mia,

      I have been raptor watching since the 80s and the Short-tailed Hawk, to me, is the most exciting raptor. The Peregrine Falcon stoop is super thrilling and I love it, but the Short-tailed Hawk stoops also plus hangs motionless when kiting (doesn't really wing flick to adjust when kiting) and parachutes. It is an amazing master of avian flight.