Epic Migration - Iowa Wildlife Federation

Epic Migration

Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.



2 Watching for Prey - Broadwing


5 migrator

Unless you spent the entire day in a corner of your Mother’s basement, it would have
been nearly impossible to miss the epic migration of broad-winged hawks
that  moved into Northern Iowa during the afternoon of Friday, April 25,
2014.  It was one of those rare warm and sunny days [only the third time
the sun had shown its face in nearly two weeks] when conditions were absolutely
perfect for hitching a ride on developing thermals.  Hawks began appearing
by early afternoon, and by mid-afternoon passing kettles were coming by
nonstop.  It was by far the biggest spring migration of raptors I’ve3 Dark Morph
witnessed in my lifetime.  Just before sunset, the birds began descending
in search of nighttime roosting areas.  In prime locations, nearly every
tree seemed to support a broad-winged hawk or two.  I even spotted a dark
morphed bird — the first I’ve ever seen for the species.  By now,
everyone had noticed and was commenting on the broad-winged hoards — birders
and nonbirders alike.  I had one person call and ask, “What in the
world is going on?  I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”1 Migrating Broadwing

“I couldn’t identify them,” he said.  “All I knew is that
they were some kind of hawk.  I never knew that hawks would travel in
flocks like blackbirds.”  That remark was  a pretty good
assessment of this most amazing event.

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