[Tweeters] Swainson's Hawk - Marymoor Park - King County - Sept. 19, 2008

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Thu Sep 18 21:44:19 PDT 2008

Hi Everyone,

Most of you probably read my September 10th post on the Swainson's Hawk (SWHA) I saw flying over the Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Centennial Fields in the Three Forks Natural Area. Congratulations to Houston and Austin in getting this image, something I was unable to do last week because I focused on studying the bird too long for it to be in range when I finally put down the binocs and grabbed the camera.

It's particularly interesting to me to re-read my description of the bird I saw (and try to replay the mental image of it) and compare to this image. The birds are quite similar overall, and my first thought (especially since fall SWHA in western WA is a quite rare sighting) is that they were probably the same bird. However, on looking at this image, my inclination is that they are similar juveniles but different individuals. The overall coloration and general characteristics of 'my' bird to this one are quite similar. Particularly note the light colored throat and chin on this bird (as described on mine); many SWHA have fully dark heads and a dark upper breast or bib. Wheeler refers to birds like this one and mine as having 'split bibs'. The differences between my bird and this one (although I REALLY wish I had an image to compare) are that the subterminal band on this bird is more pronounced than what I thought I saw on my bird - although the lighting conditions toda!
y and l
ast Wednesday were distinctly different, as was the time of day seen. Also, this bird appears to me to have more brown markings on its breast and belly than the bird I saw.

The reason it's quite interesting if the birds are in fact two different individuals is the significant rarity of SWHA in western WA in fall migration. Bud Anderson replied off-list to a couple of questions I asked of him after my sighting. Bud has personally seen only two SWHA's in western WA, and both those were in spring migration - he's never seen one in the fall. Additionally, in 2,000+ birds banded at the Entiat banding station during its operation, there were ZERO SWHA's captured. So, two birds in fall migration within a week of each other is a real statistical anomaly based on past data from Bud and Birds of Washington. (Anyone out there on the records committee want to check on the total number of records like this?)

This is also a new bird for the extensive (and still growing) Marymoor Park list - we were discussing how likely a SWHA sighting in Marymoor was at Michael Hobbs' Thursday walk last week the day after my sighting in Snoqualmie. Didn't take long!

John Tubbs
Snoqualmie, WA
johntubbs at comcast.net

-------------- Original message --------------
From: Houston Flores <houstonflores at hotmail.com>
Hey Ya'll.

Just drove through Marymoor Park and had to pull over when I saw a long winged buteo kiting over the road. It looks to me like a juvenile Swainson's Hawk. Here is a picture my girlfriend Austin took :


It was seen just across (south) from the velodrome parking lot.

Good Migrations,

Houston Flores
Allovertheplace, USA
houstonflores AT hotmail.com

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