Monday, October 3, 2016

The Swainson's Hawk

As some of you may recall, my son is a birder, which means he goes and 'gets' birds. Getting a bird does not mean capturing it. Getting a bird means you see and identify the bird. Some birders also count birds they can identify by song as well (no easy feat I might add). To get an inkling of what the birder is like, I highly recommend The Big Year, which perfectly illustrates the lengths birders will go to to get the bird.

Like the guys in the movie, my son has lists. He has a yearly list, to tally all the birds he sees in a year, a Maine list, to tally all the birds he sees here, and a lifer list, of all the individual birds he's seen ever. He may have a yard list, too...Anyway, there's a listserve for Maine (and probably other states as well or something like it) which alerts birders to unusual birds that may have ventured out of their normal range. Like the Swainson's Hawk, which is 'a common sight over grasslands of the Great Plains and the west, but only in summer: every autumn, most individuals migrate to southern South America. Although Swainson's Hawk is big enough to prey on rodents, snakes, and birds (and does so, while it is raising young), at most seasons it feeds heavily on large insects instead. Flocks are often seen sitting on the ground in fields where there are many grasshoppers or caterpillars (courtesy of Audubon.org).'

The important fact here is that that this hawk primarily resides west of the Mississippi and migrates to South America. Not Maine. But there he was hanging out at the Millinocket Airport.

A Juvenile Swainson's Hawk

My son drove two and a half hours to get this bird, and the picture, which brings his yearly count to 191 different birds seen in Maine this year. A personal best, I might add. Also a pretty awesome bird to get in Maine :)

Here's what the adult Swainson's Hawk looks like -


So. There's your bird lesson for the day. I should also mention that Dianne, Krytalyn, and I are still doing First Impressions (we've cut back to one submission per month) so if you have a first page you'd like critiqued by three authors, email me and you can have November's spot :)

Finally, Pumpkinfest fast approaches, and I will be making my annual walk into to town to photograph them. For those who think this whole pumpkin decorating thing is silly, here's a reminder how creative these decorators can be:


Have a fabulous week :)


42 comments:

  1. That pumpkin is a little disturbing.
    Your son was determined to see that bird. That hawk was definitely out of his comfort zone though.

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  2. I think the pumpkin is hilarious, and oh yeay, that bird way out of his range! Probably got lost.

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  3. LOveyour pumpkinfest pics.

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    1. Columbus Day weekend...I'm counting the days :)

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  4. I can't wait to see the pumpkins. Really great picture your son took. That hawk was really lost. I love bird watching and sometimes see bald eagles flying high above us.

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    1. We have those around here, too. My son can actually identify birds by their song. Lots of them. I can identify maybe five to ten by song. On a good day.

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  5. Birds often don't read where they are supposed to be, and pop up elsewhere to suprise and delight us.
    Your son must have been smiling from ear to ear.
    And I loved your pumpkin festival last year. Looking forward to this one.

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    1. He was pretty excited about it. It was a really good bird to get here in Maine.

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  6. That's a fine looking hawk!

    Looking forward to the pumpkin pics!

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    1. He's really pretty in both stages I think.

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  7. Can't wait to see the pumpkins. Nice pictures of the hawk.


    www.ficklemillennial.wordpress.com

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  8. The hawk is beautiful. When my daughter was in high school, she took a mini class on hawks.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I bet that was interesting!

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  9. Wow, that's quite the achievement, that bird. I worry that it's left its usual haunts can't be a good thing.

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    1. He went off course (by a lot) but hopefully he'll move on and find his way.

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  10. well that is an unusual obsession :) I don't think we see many birds in the city, I did have a few owls trying to eat my kittens over the years, so they now give me creeps :) and once my cat caught a pheasant, even though I've no idea where he found it in the middle of a city. And I once saw a hawk in my yard (!!!) catching a sparrow in flight which also gave me terrible creeps :) I usually dream birds when something bad is about to happen... but I always have such prophetic dreams....

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    1. Actually, not so unusual. There are lots of birders, or people who like to go look for birds, especially unusual ones they don't get to see in their back yard. It's also a good outdoor hobby :)

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  11. What a beautiful hawk! I think more and more birds and animals are being found in areas they never used to inhabit. Another product of global warming?

    That decorated pumpkin is the best EVER!

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    1. This guy was just off course, which happens, more often with juvenile birds, which makes sense. And isn't she awesome???!!! I love her. Two words come to mind: wild abandon

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  12. I love pumpkinfest! They can't do that around here. Pumpkins melt. *sigh* There are so many unique birds around here, changing by the season. I think Florida is a great place for birders.

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    1. My son used to live in FL and that's when his interest started, so yes, tons of birding in your state!

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    2. And understandably. I mean, when you can sit on your porch and watch ten different types of birds scamper by in 1/2 hour or less, it's bound to at least spark an interest.

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  13. Such a gorgeous bird. And really neat your son is a birder. We'll be heading out to a pumpkin patch this weekend or the next. I love this time of year! :)

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    1. I love it, too, especially the pumpkins!

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  14. What super pictures, Marcy. Over here, we see hawks flying wild and free. It's a beautiful sight. I love this time of year. We live just a ten minute walk away from an enormous pumpkinfest. I'd never seen pumpkin dinosaurs until this year! Very creative. I'm definitely having a go at pumpkin pie baking in a few weeks time. Thank you for a lovely post.

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    1. Yes, they grow them quite large, which of course offers the artists a larger canvas :)

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  15. It's like Pokemon Go! But in nature and without phones! Erm... seriously though, I love hawks. These are great pics.

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    1. Much better than pokeman go, imo :)

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  16. That's a beautiful bird! My dad loved to track the birds he'd see as well.
    Love that pumpkin! :)

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    1. Isn't she fun? She makes me smile.

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  17. What a neat bird. We had some huge hawks here lately. I thought they might be something special, but in the end, I think they were Red Tailed Hawks, floating around their homeland! I mentioned the pumpkin festival to my husband a few weeks ago. Thought it might be an outing for the long weekend...but things have come up. Not sure we are going to make it up north this weekend. Hope you enjoy!

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    1. Sadly it's raining today so not sure if I'll get out but maybe it will clear enough to get some pics. Even if you came next weekend the pumpkins would still be here. They leave them up for a couple of weeks for people to enjoy.

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  18. What a beautiful bird! (This is where I confess I'm AFRAID of birds. It was the dive-bombing red-winged blackbirds that did this to me.) But I will think of your dedicated son and try to appreciate them more from here on out! Christy

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    1. (well, not the red-winged blackbirds, but all others!) ;)

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    2. Red winged blackbirds? Really? I've never heard of them behaving so badly! The ones we get here just hang out and sing their pretty song. So sorry you don't like birds :(

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  19. Hi, Marcy,

    Beautiful hawk. I think I saw one of them in Chicago a few days ago...

    LOVE the last pumpkin pic.... Looks like she had one to many spiked apple ciders... LOL

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  20. I loved the movie The Big Year! It's very cool that your son has such an interesting hobby. The pics of the hawks are great! That last pumpkin pick sort of looks like a "sexy nurse" finding out that the fleet is in... :O

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  21. Good for your son! The closest I've been to becoming a birder is reading the magazine "Birds and Blooms". I can share an interesting fact, however, having heard the word irruption used to define a bird going into an unusual range. Your son may know the term. Here's such an article about snowy owls: http://www.projectsnowstorm.org/what-is-an-irruption/ Be well!

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  22. That poor pumpking lady. Looks like she had one too many. Great fun though.

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  23. I just popped over from Debra's blog to check yours out. The Big Year was such a good film, I loved it. The passion they had about birding was amazing.

    Nice blog btw.

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