If January could be summed up by snow, February can be summed up by RAIN. All caps because it’s ridiculous. We can’t seem to catch a break. Luckily, birds still have stuff to do regardless of the weather. They’re out there and occasionally I joined them. Yesterday, Tomas and I went to Ridgefield NWR for some comfy drive-thru birding.
Swans have returned to the refuge, both Trumpeter and Tundra though the Tundra Swans stood out more to me with their yellow lores.
This one flew in for a nice photo-op.
Red-winged Blackbirds were singing in the rain.
And this American Coot couldn’t give a coot.
There were Bald Eagles, American Kestrel, Northern Harrier, and of course Red-tailed Hawks along the route.
But we got the biggest surprise when approaching the park exit.
Not one, but two Rough-legged Hawks! I’ve seen this type of hawk a couple of times, but only as a passenger in a vehicle flying along the highway with no time to enjoy. This time we could observe from the heated car as long as we pleased.
They have a small bill, light head and dark belly. One had a paler eyes, a juvenile bird, while the other had dark eyes, an adult bird. Both appear to have the light morph color pattern.
And of course they have feathered tarsi, or those “rough legs.”
They perched for a long time, sometimes fanning their wings out to dry. Until finally one flew from the tree and this was when we learned how they hunt. They face into the wind and hover! Similar to American Kestrels. The hover and scan the ground looking for small mammals. I made an animated gif to show the hovering in action:
Pretty sweet. Glad we made it out in the rain!
Much more to come. February isn’t over yet.
Tweets and chirps,
I’ve yet to see the Rough Legged Hawk, these photos will help me ID one when and I one crosses my path! I may have seen one but was not able to ID it, which happens a lot especially if I am not able to snap a photo or get a good look through binoculars.
Jen took me around Ridgefield in Sept 2015, (wow has it been that long already) Such a diverse habitat, and a great place to see wildlife while in the comfort of the heated and dry car! Here in SC it’s Spring! Birds are already paring up!