BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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HAWKS, ETC. : SUBORDER FALCONES

FAMILIES PANDIONIDÆ, FALCONIDÆ, BUTEONIDÆ

Thirteen species of Hawks (including the Bald Eagle) occur regularly in New York and New England. Of these, nine belong to three genera, Falco, Buteo, and Accipiter, which differ so much in their proportions and in the characteristics of their flight, that it is important to become familiar with them. The Sparrow Hawk, the Red-shouldered Hawk, and the Cooper's Hawk are the commonest representatives of these three genera. All these species hunt in country where woods alternate with open land, and are seen most frequently flying overhead or perched upright on some lookout post.

[graphic][subsumed]

RED-TAILED HAWK (upper); MARSH HAWK (lower)

The Marsh Hawk, which belongs to a different genus, is often commoner than the Sparrow Hawk, while the little Sharp-shinned Hawk is common everywhere in spring and fall. The frontispiece and the plate (add link) illustrate the differences between the four common genera. The Marsh Hawk hunts low over extensive meadows; the Fish Hawk plunges into the water from a great height; the Eagle, too, is generally seen near large bodies of water; the Rough-legged Hawk is a rare migrant or winter visitant to extensive meadows; the Goshawk and the Pigeon Hawk are rare, and the Broad-winged Hawk is only locally common.

AMERICAN OSPREY; FISH HAWK. Pandion haliaëtus carolinensis
23.10 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts grayish-brown; head, neck, and under parts white; sides and top of head marked with dusky. Ad. ♀.— Similar to , but with breast spotted with brown.

Nest, in trees or on poles near the water. Eggs, varying from buffy-white to reddish-brown, spotted with dark brown.

The Fish Hawk is a local summer resident of New York and New England, breeding near the coast or on large inland rivers and lakes. There are colonies in northern New Jersey, on Long Island, and on Narragansett Bay; in Maine it breeds both on the coast and in the interior. In the rest of New York and New England it is a rather common migrant, both on the coast and inland, in April and May, and in September and October. Its habit of plunging into the water from a height is, of course, characteristic. When not fishing, its great extent of wing, and its white head and under parts distinguish it.


AMERICAN [KESTREL] SPARROW HAWK. Falco sparverius
♂ 9.50 in. ♀ 10.75 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts conspicuously reddish-brown; head, when seen near to, slate-blue, with a large reddish-brown spot; throat and cheeks white, a black mark from in front of the eye along the side of the throat, another from back of the eye; wings slate-blue; tail tipped with black; large black spots on belly and side. Ad. ♀.— Very similar, but with more reddish-brown on the wings; no black band across tip of tail.

Nest, in a hole in a tree, or in a tower. Eggs, varying from white, with few markings, to deep buff, more or less speckled with brown.

The Sparrow Hawk is a summer resident of New York and New England; it is nowhere common, and in the upland of northern New England it does not occur. Common spring and fall migrant along the coast, and an occasional winter visitant from eastern Massachusetts southward. It frequents extensive meadows, where a few tall trees here and there furnish it with posts of observation and a breeding-site in some dead limb. It often hovers over the grass, with tail broadly spread, the wings rapidly vibrating forward of the almost perpendicular body. Just after alighting the tail is tilted once or twice. During the courtship the male performs evolutions in the air, dropping rapidly from a height, uttering a note like the syllables killy, killy.

The small size of this hawk will distinguish it from all other hawks except the Sharp-shinned and the rather rare Pigeon Hawk [Merlin], and from each of these the reddish-brown of the back and tail at once distinguishes it. In flying, the Sparrow Hawk takes rapid strokes, and does not alternate these regularly with intervals of gliding, as the Sharpshinned Hawk does. The tail of the latter extends far out behind him as he circles high in the air; the former's wings reach well toward the tip of the tail, so that its tail does not show as conspicuously. The Sparrow Hawk's wings are long and narrow; the Sharp-shinned Hawk's are short and broad. (See Frontispiece.)


PIGEON HAWK [MERLIN]. Falco columbarius.
♂ 10.00 in. ♀ 13.00 in.

Ad. ♂.— Upper parts bluish-gray; under parts white, streaked with black, the throat lightly, the rest heavily. Ad. ♀ and Im.— Upper parts brownish; under parts as in male.

The Pigeon Hawk is a somewhat rare migrant in New York and New England in April, September, and October, more common along the coast; it is an occasional winter visitant. When a student has thoroughly learned the difference in appearance and flight between the Sparrow Hawk [Kestrel] and the Sharp-shinned Hawk, between a Falcon with long, narrow wings, and an Accipiter with short, rounded wings, he will be able, if a good opportunity offers, to identify a Pigeon Hawk. If a small hawk has a powerful head and shoulders, long narrow wings reaching well toward the tip of the tail, and the rapid flight of a falcon, and yet has a brownish (not reddish-brown) or a slaty-blue back, it can be no other than the Pigeon Hawk.


DUCK HAWK [PEREGRINE FALCON]. Falco peregrinus anatum
♂ 16.00 in. ♀ 19.00 in.

Ad.— Top and sides of head black, throat inclosed by two broad black stripes; rest of upper parts, wings, and tail bluish-gray; tail crossed with narrow black bars; throat and breast buffy, or white; belly buffy, crossed with narrow black bars. Im.— Upper parts blackish-gray, the feathers edged with brown; black bars bordering throat, as in adult; throat buffy; rest of under parts buffy or yellowish-brown, thickly streaked with black.

Nest, on steep cliffs. Eggs, varying from buffy to brown, sometimes plain, sometimes spotted, or blotched.

The Duck Hawk breeds here and there on a few steep cliffs along the Hudson and in New England. Mount Tom and one or two other cliffs in Massachusetts, Eagle Cliff and Dixville Notch, N. H., and Lakes Willoughby and Memphremagog, Vt., each has an eyrie of these noble hawks. In most of New England the bird is a rather rare migrant or a still rarer winter resident. In April and May, and again in September and October, it is not infrequently seen along the sea-shore, where it preys on the sea-fowl and shore birds. When one approaches the cliff where a pair are breeding, the parents become much agitated, and fly up and down with a loud, harsh cry. The Duck Hawk may readily be known by its size, by the cut of its wings and tail, and by the black mustaches.


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