October 16, 2017

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Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

A small Buteo with broad wings and a raptor that doesn’t breed in Colorado, at least three Broad-winged Hawks were observed the first week of October on Chico Basin Ranch, this one perched at the north side of Rose Pond.  This is usually a secretive eastern forest species that also breeds west into western Canada.  Although solitary during the breeding season, they amass in great numbers on both their spring and fall migrations. Because they avoid flying over large bodies of water, in fall most of the population flies west across Louisiana and the Coastal Bend of Texas before heading south along the west side of the Gulf of Mexico. The daily record of counted Broad-winged Hawk at Corpus Christi, TX, was 446,000 birds. Most of the world population can be viewed at hawk watch sites in Veracruz, Mexico where over 500,000 have been recorded in one day. A few, mostly young birds winter in South Florida.

It is thought that Broad-winged Hawks are expanding their breeding range to the west and a few have bred in the past in Colorado.  This perched bird can be identified by the short folded wings that are much shorter than the tail, the facial pattern showing a white chin with a dark central vertical streak, and a dark bar on the sides of the brown auriculars and in juveniles,  like this bird, a white supercilium above the eye.

Photography by Bill Maynard