SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Monday, June 30, 2008

Communal feeding-40+ hawks

Yesterday I found a field south of La Junta with more than 40 hawks. They were mostly Swainson's Hawks, a species known for it's communal feeding, but there were several Ferruginous Hawks there also. There was a mixture of ages with adults and birds in juvenal plumage. And I was really surprised to see 3 quite young hawks, about half the size of the adult Swainson's Hawk that was attending them. These young hawks seemed too small to have fledged from their nest and there were no trees nearby that might support a nest that they could return to.

The field in which these hawks were feeding was a hay field that had been cut. There were cattle grazing on the hay stubble and the hawks followed the cattle as they moved further away. I saw grasshoppers on the road where I was standing and think it is likely that the hawks were feasting on these insects which make up a good part of the diet of Swainson's Hawks (Ferruginous are known to eat insects also but usually feed on small mammals). The cattle may have been stirring up the grasshoppers as they walked around and grazed on the grass.

Unfortunately the nearest hawks were about 200 feet away, too distant for my DSLR camera. This pic is of one of the almost full-sized Swainson's in juvenal plumage that I took by digiscoping, a new modality I am still trying to learn. I couldn't get a pic of the feeding group as they were spread out up to hundreds of feet from each other. SeEtta


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