Subject: Hawks Today: Redtails, YES
Date Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2002 3:39 AM

If you thought roadside Red-tailed Hawks were abundant today, you were right. On Rt. 495 from Rt. 2 north to Rt. 110 in Salisbury, there were fifteen Redtails sitting out in the rain. They mostly came in on Friday ahead of the sliding cold front; the same one that will make another run at us Monday.

Included were a couple of "orange" birds -- referring to the wash on the upper breast -- and one adult Redtail with a belly-band as wide and dark as any Rough-legged Hawk! Western-looking Eastern adult RTs are a pretty common sight throughout March.

Tom Carrolan
I have one share in corporate Earth, and I am nervous about the management.
-- E.B. White

Subject: Hawks Today: Redtails, NO
Date Sent: Monday, April 8, 2002 2:31 AM

For four Winters I've kept track of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks in the vicinity of Nine Acre Corner [Sudbury/Concord MA]. These birds arrive from somewhere North of MA in late October and stay until the last week in March, like clockwork. But this year there was Winter with a twist. I'll get back to that.

To keep track, I noted where the birds pair-sit in the first light of morning -- for warmth. I noted where the female hunts in the morning and then in the afternoon. Where does he spend his day? And, as they cross paths during the day, what perches do they each prefer. I've seen this couple go down after voles -- hit and miss. This close study over the course of months and years is easy to start, all you need is time and the common species of your choice. It is a very rewarding pursuit, especially through the Winter months, and in terms of getting to know birds -- your own modest independent study program.

Sometimes familiarity breeds a surprise! Toward the end of February 2002, I encounter the pair perched shoulder-to-shoulder in the NE corner of the complex of fields in their Winter territory. Now this was a new place for them, so I fired off a roll of film over the next two days.

Then two days later, it was late in the afternoon and after a day of rain, the lighting was wonderful and the birds were so richly colored in drenched oranges so I made a few digiscope images of them in their p.m. roost. This was the last time I saw them this year. Over the first week in March I redoubled my searches and concluded that they left early this year... a full month early from this new station at the northerly edge of their winter habitat.

A similar situation involved that very white Snowy Owl on Plum Island. After being a regular around the Salt Pannes and near Parking Lot #1 over many weeks into March, this bird moved NW a mile plus to an area just South of the airfield for the last week it was seen.

And finally, here comes the connection with the play on words from those popular email subject lines "Gyr YES" "Gyr NO." The Design Center Gyrfalcon may have exhibited the same pre-migratory behavior -- as the Redtail pair in Sudbury and the male Snowy Owl at Plum Island -- when it moved North to Logan prior to moving out.

Tom Carrolan

A note on these western-like Redtail images:
Both birds have blackish brown backs with a white "erasure" in the center. Both have golden heads.
The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
More Wintertail images ::::::)