Red-shouldered Hawk in Marquette County Wisconsin on March 5, 2017

While driving on a back road in Marquette County with my son this morning we spotted a stunning Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on a branch in a wooded parcel about 50 feet off the road. I pulled over and took a couple shots. After about 30 seconds it flew about 50 feet down the road but remained in the woods. The colors on this bird when the wings went up and it flew were incredible! It landed in a heavily branched tree and we left the area. By far the closest I have ever been to this species, my lucky day! Images were taken on March 5, 2017.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Binomial name: Buteo lineatus

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Size: 17” long, 40” wing span

Weight: 1.4 lb

Cool facts: These hawks of the forests hunt prey from mice to frogs and snakes often near rivers and swamps. Considered a secretive bird for this area.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

American Kestrel at the Milwaukee Lakefront on November 30, 2016

Birding along Milwaukee’s lakefront this morning, the highlight was an adult male American Kestrel coming in for a landing to a tree. The rest of the lakefront was very quiet with only a few winter ducks. The King Eider was still being seen off of Northpoint but very far out.

American Kestrel coming in for a landing

American Kestrel coming in for a landing

American Kestrel

Binomial name: Falco sparverius

Category: Caracaras and Falcons

Size: 9” long, 22” wing span

Weight: 4.1 oz

Cool facts: I’ve also heard it called a sparrow hawk

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It did not hang around!

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Swallow-tailed Kite at Fish Creek in Door County Wisconsin on July 27, 2016

I had not been on the computer all day yesterday until late afternoon and what a nice surprise to see a Swallow-tailed Kite was found in Door County. I arrived at sun up near Fish Creek and the 1st 3 hours were very quiet. Then I followed what I thought was a birder in a car and stopped her as she was turning around in a drive. It was Ann Gamble, the finder of this awesome Swallow-tailed Kite. We just talked for a minute and she said that the location we were at was the main place she had seen the Swallow-tailed Kite. In less then a minute, there the kite was gracefully gliding high up. Probably catching insects on the fly or just enjoying the thermals.  It did this for at least 1 hour and for the most part remained distant. The male kite put on a phenomenal show. Talking with Ann, she said the bird has maybe been there a month already as her sister talked of a bird fitting the kite description awhile back. Ann has been following the bird on and off approximately the last 10 days. Thanks to Ann for finding this bird, getting some shots of it, getting the ID, and getting the word out for others to see. A life bird for me and an exciting one at that! This bird typically breeds in Florida, and winters for the most part in South America. Images were taken on July 27, 2016.

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Swallow-tailed Kite

Binomial name: Elanoides forficatus

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Size: 22” long, 51” wing span

Weight: 15 oz

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Top view

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Top view

Top view

Top view

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Merlins in Sawyer County Wisconsin on July 2, 2016

I found a nesting pair of Merlins last week while up in Sawyer County. These birds remained at tree tops when I saw them waiting for prey. I can see why they call this bird a small powerful falcon as it must hear or see prey off in a distant and then they take off like a bullet from the tree tops, they are out of sight in a couple of seconds. Amazing to see this bird in action, but it was very difficult to photograph it with tall pine trees in the area. I saw it fly to the nest on numerous occasions with prey and in the nest too, likely feeding young. Amazing birds! Images were taken the last week in June 2016.

These images are not very sharp but I wanted to share this amazing bird.

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Merlin

Binomial name: Falco columbarius

Category: Caracaras and Falcons

Size: 10” long, 24” wing span

Weight: 6.5 oz

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Just before takeoff

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Typically perched on a tall pine tree close to the nest tree

The nest up very high

The nest up very high

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Red-tailed Hawk soaring in the sky at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on February 27, 2016

The highlight of the day birding was this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk soaring in the sky at Lakeshore State Park. Even though it was a beautiful day weather wise today, birding appeared to be slow, at least where I looked along the lakefront. A Great Black-backed Gull was the only other bird to note. Images were taken on February 27, 2016.

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Red-tailed Hawk

Binomial name: Buteo jamaicensis

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Size: 19” long, 49” wing span

Weight: 2.4 lb

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Gyrfalcon in Superior Wisconsin and the Ivory Gull in Duluth Minnesota on January 2, 2016

I made the run up to Superior Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota along with Jenny, Rita and John. We arrived a few minutes before sun up. The 2 target birds for us for the day were the rare Gyrfalcon (currently in WI) and the very rare visiting Ivory Gull (currently in MN). It was an exciting day watching both species in action. The Gyrfalcon chased and Common Raven, then the Common Raven appeared to chase the Gyrfalcon. What a show it was! The Ivory Gull was there at sun up with many spectators, ate and on occasion, flew at some high speeds with Herring Gulls. Life birds for all of us on a cold morning and full sun, with low winds. A fun trip for the 4 of us and with friends and birders from around the state. Images were taken on January 2, 2016.

Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven?

Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven, images taken at about 1/4 mile from birds

Gyrfalcon

Binomial name: Falco rusticolus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Size: 22” long, 47” wing span

Weight: 3.1 lb

Notes: Breeds in the Arctic, wintering in northern Canada south to the northern US.

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Binomial name: Pagophila eburnea

Category: Gulls

Size: 17” long, 37” wing span

Weight: 1.4 lb

Notes: Typically spends it’s life in the high Arctic. The Ivory Gull nests are sometimes eaten by caribou.

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Gyrfalcon in pursuit of the Common Raven

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Common Raven chasing the Gyrfalcon

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Common Raven chasing the Gyrfalcon

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Gyrfalcon, the chase ends!

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Gyrfalcon cruising near a build roof top from a 1/4 mile away

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Gyrfalcon

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

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Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

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Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull with Herring Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

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Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Ivory Gull

Red-tailed Hawk catching its prey in Waukesha County on July 29, 2015

Checking out a few birding spots this morning I encountered the Red-tailed Hawk once again looking for prey and this time capturing it. The Red-tailed Hawk got a frog, chipmunk, and a very large insect while I observed from a distance. For the chipmunk, the Red-tailed Hawk sat in a tree near a fence. The chipmunk came out once and went right back into the tree trunk, knowing the hawk was present. The next time, a few minutes later the chipmunk came out the Red-tailed Hawk landed on it, spread it wings on the ground and held it down for a few minutes. The Red-tailed Hawk then flew off to a nearby tree and proceeded to have its meal. It does not always score but it had a good streak going while I was present. At one point it appeared to play with a piece of root, tossed it, pounced on it from 2 feet off the ground. Not sure what this was all about. Images were taken on July 29, 2015.

Warning: Some of the following images are graphic in nature and might be disturbing to some viewers.

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk with frog

Red-tailed Hawk waiting for the chipmunk!

Red-tailed Hawk waiting for the chipmunk!

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk, poor thing!

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

Red-tailed Hawk with chipmunk

I observed the Red-tailed Hawk tossing around what looked like a piece of root, flying a couple feet off the ground and pouncing on it

I observed the Red-tailed Hawk tossing around what looked like a piece of root, flying a couple feet off the ground and pouncing on it

I observed the Red-tailed Hawk tossing around what looked like a piece of root, flying a couple feet off the ground and pouncing on it

I observed the Red-tailed Hawk tossing around what looked like a piece of root, flying a couple feet off the ground and pouncing on it

Flying up and then pouncing

Flying up and then pouncing

flying up and pouncing

flying up and pouncing

Just looking around

Just looking around

Flying up with root in talon and then pouncing on it

Flying up with root in talon and then pouncing on it

Flying up with root in talon and then pouncing on it

Flying up with root in talon and then pouncing on it

Just pouncing around

Just pouncing around

Just pouncing around

Just pouncing around

Not sure what this was all about, an old gopher hole, but I never see gopher here

Not sure what this was all about, an old gopher hole, but I never see gophers here

Not sure what this was all about, an old gopher hole, but I never see gopher here

Not sure what this was all about, an old gopher hole, but I never see gophers here

Ready to takeoff for the next event!

Ready to takeoff for the next event!

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Red-tailed Hawk in Waukesha County on July 28, 2015

On a walk this morning I encountered an adult Red-tailed Hawk that was standing on and trying to hold down what I think was a snake. Though I never saw the actual snake, I could tell by the actions of the Red-tailed Hawk that is probably what it was, and the snake got away. These are a few images I took while observing from a distance. Images were taken on July 28, 2015.

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk holding down a snake

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds above harassing the Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds above harassing the Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds above harassing the Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds above harassing the Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds above harassing the Red-tailed Hawk

Northern Goshawk near the Horicon Marsh on January 22, 2015

I made a run up to the area north of Horicon Marsh in Fond du Lac County Wisconsin. Ryan S joined me for the run up with hopes to see the reported Northern Goshawk. When we arrived at 7:20 am the bird was present for about 10 minutes distant from the road. We left the area for a short time waiting for better light but when we returned we could not relocate the bird. We birded the general area till 1:00 pm but could not relocate the Northern Goshawk after 7:20-7:30 am viewing. A nice life bird for Ryan and I. Thanks to Dave G for finding this uncommon bird and those who helped in the ID’ing of it. Other species present 2 Snowy Owls, 1 Merlin, 2 Northern Shrikes, numerous Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks. It was a fun day birding!

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Northern Goshawk

Binomial name: Accipiter gentilis

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Size: 21” long, 41” wing span

Weight: 2.1 lb

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Red-tailed Hawk at the Lake Express Milwaukee Wisconsin December 23, 2014

I did some birding along the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning and there was nothing exciting to report in the places I stopped at. The Snowy Owl was still present at the Lake Express and located where it is typically hangs out at, the pipe. The highlight of the day for me was watching a pair of Red-tailed Hawks hunting at the Lake Express. As I watch one it eyed up its prey in a field and went for it. The prey won this time as I got back into its hole in the ground. Another observation I made today was a Red-tailed Hawk in a large puddle, could have been taking a bath which I must have missed. Minutes later it was up in the middle of a branched tree with it wings spread out dry them like a Double-crested Cormorant does. The sun shined for a whole 15 minutes today! With the mild temps and light winds it was nice to get out birding for a couple hours this morning. Images taken on December 23, 2014.

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I see my prey!

 

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It is here somewhere!

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It got away!

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Up looking for the next catch!

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Doing a balancing act here with higher winds!

 

White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite near Leola Marsh, Adams County, Wisconsin.  Photographed on September 30, 2013.

White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite

Binomial name: Elanus leucurus

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Description: White with black shoulders and wingtips; elongated wings and tail.  Red eyes and yellow legs.

Size: 14” – 17” long, 35” – 40” wingspan

Weight: 8.8 oz. – 13 oz.

Habitat: Coastal areas, marshes, sparse woodlands, and grasslands

Diet: Rodents and other small mammals

Nesting: Both parents choose the nesting site and may participate in building the nest; sometimes only the female builds the nest.  The nest is typically in the top third of a tree and is shallow and made with twigs and grasses or leaves.  The female will lay an average of 4 eggs at a time, laying 1 brood per season.  The incubation period lasts 30 to 32 days and the young remain in the nest for about 35 days.

Notes: The White-Tailed Kite can hover in midair 80 feet above the ground without flapping its wings by facing into the wind.  This behavior is called “kiting,” thus the name White-Tailed Kite.  From this stationary position, the White-Tailed Kite will plunge straight down to retrieve its prey.

White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite

White-Tailed Kite

Please click here to see the gallery of images.

American Bald Eagle

American Bald Eagles on the Mississippi River in Le Claire IA in February 2012.

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Bald Eagle

Binomial name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Category: Hawks, Kites, Eagles, and Allies

Description: Brown with a white head and white tail feathers.  Yellow eyes, beak, and feet.

Size: 28″ – 40″ long, 5.9′ – 7.5′ wingspan

Weight: 6.6 lbs. – 14 lbs.

Habitat: Forested areas near open bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, wetlands, and coastal shorelines.

Diet: Mostly fish but occasionally small mammals, ducks, and gulls.

Nesting: Both parents gather materials although the female does most of the building.  The nests are made out of branches and sticks and then lined with grass, moss, and feathers.  They may be rebuilt and reused repeatedly over many years. The typical clutch size is 1 to 3 eggs.  Both parents will incubate the eggs with the female incubating more often while the male hunts for food.  The young will fledge as early as 8 weeks after hatching, or up to 14 weeks.

Notes: Bald eagles mate for life (if one partner dies, the remaining will choose a new mate).  They engage in elaborate courtship rituals which involves a locking of talons followed by a free fall; they separate just before hitting the ground.  The Bald Eagle is the national bird and national animal of the United States of America, appearing on many official seals of the government.

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