Friday, March 9, 2012

Next hawk flight Sunday 3/11

Immature Red-shouldered Hawk in migration over Magee Marsh Wildlife Area
It's early March, and migration is in full swing in northwest Ohio. This coming Sunday, March 11, should see a fairly good movement of hawks and vultures. According to current predictions, Sunday should see a high temperature above 60 degrees, with south-southwest winds of 13 mph, almost ideal conditions for a hawk flight. On any non-rainy day with south winds, some hawks will be moving, but winds from the southwest concentrate the birds near the Lake Erie shoreline and make them easier to see. After Sunday, it appears that Tuesday the 13th could be a good flight day also.

One traditional spot for watching raptor migration is the observation tower near the Sportsmen's Center on the road in to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. The observation platform near the corner of Krause and Stange roads, on the west edge of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, is another good spot. Farther west, the sledding hill at Maumee Bay State Park can be very good. Recently, local ace birder Sherrie Duris has reported good results from another sledding hill at South Shore Park, just a little farther west at the corner of Stadium and Bayshore roads. In all of these locations, on days with moderate southwest or south-southwest winds, hawks and vultures should be passing by, heading west toward the west end of the lake, where they can turn northward into Michigan and continue their migration.

This early in the season, highlights include Red-shouldered Hawks, Bald Eagles (migrants in addition to our resident birds), Red-tailed Hawks, perhaps a few Rough-legged Hawks, and big numbers of Turkey Vultures. Later in March there is the outside chance of seeing something like a Golden Eagle. The big movement of Broad-winged Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks occurs later, mostly in April and early May.

In other migration news: American Woodcocks, which returned record-early this year, are now displaying in the evenings at many traditional spots. Killdeers have returned in numbers, and American Robins are setting up territories. Major numbers of ducks, geese, and swans are in the area, although more than usual spent the winter this year, making it harder to pick out the migrants. Fox Sparrows and Rusty Blackbirds are beginning to appear in numbers, and the last few days have seen a push of Dark-eyed Juncos and Song Sparrows. Things are now changing every day, as they will continue to do for the next three months.  This is an amazing season, so get outside if you can!

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