Thanks for a great Spring Fling. We had a phenomenal turnout with well over 100 visitors on the hawk deck on Saturday and on Sunday. We were treated to high raptor diversity on both days, with 13 species of raptors on Saturday and an incredible 15 species on Sunday. Those are all of the regularly occurring species of raptors that we expect to see in any given year. Both Sharp-shinned Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks put on quite a display, with over 100 Sharpies and kettles of more than 200 Broad-wingeds each day.
The biggest raptor highlight for me was a young Red-tailed Hawk that had a white tail. While I was initially hoping it was going to be a light Harlan’s, young birds should not have white tails. Also, this bird did not have heavily enough barred primaries, too solid of a belly band, and too wide of wings for Harlan’s. After consulting with multiple experts, the consensus is that the bird is a Krider’s/Eastern intergrade. While the white tail is certainly a Krider’s trait, the underside of the bird looks fine for a regular Eastern bird.
Hopefully any day now we will be treated with watching a Swainson’s Hawk flyover or maybe even a Mississippi Kite (or if we are really lucky, both!). Swainson’s Hawk is practically annual at this point, though there have only been two Mississippi Kites in the last 12 years. Unfortunately, continued forecasts of strong north winds do not look ideal, but birds have been continuing to move even on some of these more challenging days.
As a final note, there has been some aurora activity for a few nights after Spring Fling. Most of the display was unfortunately blocked by clouds the first night, though there was some curtaining visible beneath the clouds. The second night appeared fairly diffuse white to the naked eye, but did have some impressive pillars.