This morning's CAS field trip to Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary observed a small accipiter, which we think was a SSHA, using a nest. When I got home, I realized that this species rarely nests in Missouri outside the Ozarks. So I thought I'd ask for some feedback...

The bird was in sub-adult plumage, with brown streaks on its breast. It was first observed briefly while it was perched, plucking and eating a prey item. It then flew a short distance to a nest, where it continued to dismember its prey . We could not tell if it was eating or if it was feeding  a nestling -- although no nestling was visible. While it was in the nest, we had good views of its tail, which was squared at the end and had no visible white terminal band. We did not have good looks at the bird in flight, and I could not judge the size of its head. 

After a few minutes, the bird settled down into the nest and could no longer be seen.  The nest was small, perhaps 18 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep, and was constructed of sticks. It was located about 30 feet off the ground in the fork of a deciduous tree in the open understory of bottomland forest near Scott's Branch Creek. 

SSHA has been frequently reported from this area during Winter-Spring 2016 -- more often than COHA -- and I would feel pretty confident about the identification except for the apparent nesting behavior. The lack of adult plumage adds a little more uncertainty. Any thoughts?   

It should be relatively easy to re-find the bird and/or  nest from the boardwalk on Scott's Branch Trail, in Dublin Park south of the Audubon property. From about 100 feet from the south end of the boardwalk,  look west (towards the creek) to find a large dead tree with multiple trunks. The hawk nest is visible behind this snag in the fork of a slender deciduous tree.



--
John Besser
Columbia MO
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