"Going out on a limb", it would appear that some of the raptors may be on the move already.
Yesterday during lunch at Dexter City Lake as I made my rounds there, I walked under the row of Pines and was stopped short at the sight of the silhouette of a small raptor perched on a lower limb of a Pine tree immediately ahead of me. With this being a regular place for Cooper's Hawks to perch, I jumped to that ID. The odd part is the resident Cooper's Hawks never let me get this close - only 15 feet away. I used the trunk of a Pine as "cover". Oh the bird knew I was there as it was facing me, but still mostly unconcerned.
As I took in its features, a reddish-orange wash through its chest, bands on its short tail and head color, quickly revealed that I was face to face with an adult Broad-winged Hawk. I stood in amazement studying and admiring this diminutive Buteo's beauty. When I began to back away, it flew off showing the dark trailing edge of its wings. A beauty, no doubt!
After work as I was returning home, I saw a low flying raptor glide across the road about 100 yards in front of me at about 5 feet off the ground and without wing beats. The unmistakable flight pattern of a Northern Harrier. This bird was a female/juvenile type. By the time I caught back up with it it was back lit in the evening sun and could only make out that it wasn't gray but brownish and the white rump patch was clearly evident. I have seen a N. Harrier twice this summer at Otter Slough CA and near the "Short-eared Owl fields" just east of Puxico, MO; so I wasn't surprised. The surprise came when I entered the house to proclaim (with a somewhat puffed chest) that I had just seen our first fall Harrier next to the house to my non-birding wife; she replied with a big grin, "Yes, I already saw that, and I wasn't even looking for it." I think she takes more satisfaction in seeing a species in and/or from our yard prior to my seeing that species than I think she should. Ha! Good Fun!
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