Monday, April 09, 2012

Ferruginous Hawk - Life bird!

Since some time in February of this year, birders have been seeing an odd Buteo at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in Boone Co., KY. Not much attention had been paid to the original sighting. Recently, another birder brought up the suggestion/possibility that the bird was a Ferruginous Hawk. Many birders then descended on the airport and many photos were taken. The bird was definitely a Ferrunginous (immature), a first state record for Kentucky!

The Ferrunginous Hawk is a hawk of the western US Great Plains region. From what I have read and heard, it is not so easy to see even in its home range.

With the opportunity to see such a cool and cooperative rare bird not so far from me (and somewhere that I know how to drive to!), I had to go see this bird. I was off last Friday, so I headed to KY to see the hawk.

When I first got there, the Ferruginous was laying in the grass just on the other side of a fence that was in front of the plane viewing area. Very easy life bird, but I wanted to see it in flight. The bird stayed on the ground for at least an hour or more.

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Nope, not a Red-tail! Finally, the bird took off!

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

The back of the bird is very different from a Red-tailed. The Ferruginous would practically disappear with its light coloring and streamline profile. It was very hard to follow with optics.

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

The profile and flight style is different from the Red-tail.

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

The bird was very fun to watch, as it was more acrobatic than a Red-tail.

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Here is a shot of the hawk in front of the control tower. Only, the hawk didn't take off or land.

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

There has been rumors that there are two Ferruginous Hawks at the airport. I do not believe this to be the case. The Ferruginous hawk has been hanging out with a very light Red-tailed Hawk. When I was there, the Ferruginous and Red-tail were talon tagging. They had also made wing contact. I seen six Red-tailed Hawks at the same time that I saw the Ferruginous Hawk.

The birds were far away, but here is a pic of the two. (Click for a lager version)

Ferruginous Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk at CVG

The light Red-tail is on the left and the Ferruginous on the right.



Ferruginous Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk at CVG

Here, the two are very close together and appear to have touched wings.

When the hawk got out of sight, there were plenty of other birds to watch. This Eastern Meadowlark landed right in front of everybody as if to say "Hey that hawk has nothing on this!"

Eastern Meadowlark

And, just as I was getting ready to leave and get in the car, the Ferruginous flew right over me! I was able to get these cool shots! Awesome day and bird!

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG

Ferruginous Hawk at CVG


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5 comments:

  1. NIce work Donald! Congratulations on your life bird. Would they let you all that close to the airport just for birding? That seems surprising given today's super-security protocols.

    At any rate this looks like a super cool sighting! Can't wait to see my own some day. Nice to get it compared with the Red-Tails too.

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  2. There is an observation area that is owned and set up by the airport for the purpose of viewing planes. Security was suspicious of the activity early on I have been told. I did not see them while I was there.

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  3. Beautiful pictures! I stumbled across your blog somewhat accidentally, but I'm quite enjoying it.

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  4. Beautiful post! The hawk is fascinating to see and I really liked the yellow bird to :)

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