[Tweeters] Late Rough-legs in WA

Mason Flint masonflint at outlook.com
Fri May 12 10:41:06 PDT 2017

I didn’t report this earlier because the ID was borderline inconclusive but given Bud’s mail I’ll mention it.

Last Sunday I was birding at Stillwater Wildlife Area for 3-4 hours including a long bushwhack out to the river and slogging through ankle deep water upstream before returning to the trail. I don’t recommend that route. ;-)

Just after I got back to the trail I got a brief glimpse of buteo-type hawk fly across the path and into trees. I assumed Red-tail…just because that’s the logical suspect. Before I could get an eye on the bird in the trees if flew again but I caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a white base of tail which made me think Rough-legged which was a big surprise. As it flew off the bird called a couple of times. The call did not sound like a typical Red-tailed Hawk at all. Not the rasping/scraping sound I’m used to. Curious, I opened up my Sibley app and listened to the Rough-legged call and it sounded a lot like the bird I heard.

Bud, maybe a dumb question but do Rough-legged Hawks vocalize regularly? I’ve never heard one before despite seeing them many times.

Also surprising were two Trumpeter Swans flying down the river valley. Didn’t get great looks but they were vocalizing. Fairly late for swans I believe. I also saw a Lincoln’s Sparrow along with tons of regular migrants – Bullock’s Oriole and Black-headed Grosbeak all over and calling. Also saw/photographed one and heard at least three American Bittern.

Mason Flint
Bellevue, WA

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Bud Anderson
Sent: Friday, May 12, 2017 9:47 AM
To: tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Tweeters] Late Rough-legs in WA

I have always been interested in how late these hawks can occur in Washington.

In fact, many years ago we originated the little known, almost covert and possibly irrelevant "May Rough-leg Club" just for fun.

You too can become an exclusive member just by simply seeing a Rough-leg in May.

No dues. No membership card. No meetings. No newsletter. Pretty much nothing.

Right now, several locals (and exclusive members) here in Skagit and Whatcom counties (Andrea Warner, Sue Cottrell, Pat Britain and Becky Rosencrans) are following two different white wing-tagged Rough-legs from the Vancouver Airport relocation project in BC run by Gary Searing.

Both were captured at YVR, transported to Chilliwack and released there.

Both are now hanging out on the Samish Flats underscoring what we all know, i.e. that open, flat, agricultural fields located on major river deltas in w. WA are very important to wintering buteos.

As you might expect, both hawks are juveniles with no particular drive to get north to breed.

So if you see a Rough-leg in May, it is always good to report it here on Tweeters.

And, if you can, try to age them. Yellow eye is a juvenile, dark eye an adult, among other things.

The idea is that most May birds, maybe all, are first year hawks.

Bud Anderson

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