Despite the continuing cold weather, this past week has been great for seeing a variety of hawks. On two trips to the area around Estancia NM this week, there were lots of Ferruginous Hawks around, a Golden Eagle and Northern Harrier or two, several American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, a couple of Rough-legged Hawks, and (seen by some) a Merlin and Prairie Falcon.
The first trip was last Thursday with the Audubon Thursday Birder group – 26 people in a caravan of 7 cars to places like NM 41, Clements Road, and Akin Farm Road. During the day, we saw something like 22 Ferruginous Hawks perched on power poles and large irrigation machinery.
Also present were large flocks of Horned Larks that would flash by and disappear into the short grass.
Quite a few pronghorn were out that morning as well, giving us a nice close view.
On Saturday, a few of us returned to the same area with an Audubon Weekend Field Trip. The weather forecast must have dissuaded some folks from coming, although it wasn’t nearly as cold as predicted for the five of us in two cars. The Ferruginous Hawks were still out and about in numbers,
as were the Red-tailed Hawks.
A special treat for us that day was a pair of Rough-legged Hawks, only the second time I’ve seen that species, and readily identified by their pattern of 3 dark patches.
It was a bit of a surprise we didn’t see very many American Kestrels as they are usually plentiful, but did manage to spot a couple of them.
Busy with home maintenance and other delayed priorities, that was pretty much it for my outdoor activities this week. On a run to the city’s hazardous waste disposal facility to drop off some old fluorescent lights (the product of one of those home maintenance activities of replacing the lights in the kitchen), however, I happened to spot this little guy all puffed out in a nest box soaking up the warm sun.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any owls, let alone a Western Screech-Owl, so it was quite exciting to see one again. Time to start looking around for old Cooper’s Hawk nests and see if we can’t track down some of the Great Horned Owls that should start nesting any day now.