When I think of woodland hawks, I think of the accipiters: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and Northern Goshawk. All are relatively short winged, all the better for them to maneuver through trees. These hawks are hunters of birds, making the sharpie and Cooper's the most likely for many of us to see in our yards.
Little did I know that one of the buteos I see most often is also a forest bird.
I often hear and then see the Broad-winged Hawk in the skies well over my house, especially during spring and fall migration. And every once in a while, one gives us a closer look.
What I didn't know is that the Broad-winged Hawk nests in mature deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests. You can look for them perched along forested roads. Migrating broad-wingeds are known to stop for the night in forests.
|Broad-winged Hawk||15"||34"||14 oz.|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||11"||23"||5 oz.|
|Cooper's Hawk||16.5"||31"||16 oz.|
|Northern Goshawk||21"||41"||2.1 lb.|
Smaller in length and lighter in weight than the Cooper's Hawk, with a little longer wingspan, the Broad-winged Hawk seems to nestle in nicely with the accipiters, though in all ways, it's dwarfed by the goshawk. Broad-wingeds eat birds as well, in addition to their diet of small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. And just like the accipiters, they will hunt by flying through woods looking for prey.
But unlike many individuals in the accipiter genus, all Broad-winged Hawks migrate, leaving the continent to winter in Central and South America.
Living in a forested area like I do, I'll now be more alert to the possibility of a Broad-winged Hawk in my midst.
Sources: Sibley Guide to Birds, David Sibley; Lives of North American Birds, Kenn Kaufman