Fall Hawk Migrations in Florida
hawk in the wild is always a treat, but viewing a hundred
or more in a single morning is one of the fall's greatest spectacles.
September marks the beginning of the annual
migration of hawks and falcons,
a journey that from some species begins in Canada and ends as far south
The best time to view hawks is
right after a cold front up north. In general, the
birds follow the Gulf coastline toward Mexico and South
Different birds will often fly at different times of
day. For instance, falcons and acceptors are most active
from early morning to late afternoon, while buteos
such as the broad wing hawk fly mostly between 10am and 2pm.
The most common hawk passing through Florida skies is the
sharp-shinned hawk, whose large numbers make it possible
to spot between 200 and 1,500 birds in a single day following a cold
Sharp shinned hawks are often in the company of the Cooper's
hawk, which is larger but similar in appearance. Both hawks,
birds of the woods, have a gray-black head, a slate
gray back, a gray and black banded tail, and bands of light tan and
bright rust on the chest and under parts. The two birds are also similar
in their flight patterns: fast and erratic.
The broad-winged hawk,
heavier than the Cooper's but around the same size, winter anywhere
from Florida to Peru. The slower flying broad-wing has a very obvious
migratory characteristic that other hawks also adapt: they
sometimes form kettles,
or groups, that will swirl in small flocks overhead rather than fly
on a direct course as the sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks do.
hawks to look for include the marsh hawk, Mississippi
kite, osprey, red-tailed
hawk and the red-shouldered hawk, all in fairly small
One of the rarest and most sought-after migratory species is the endangered peregrine falcon, the great aerial
performer which was used in the sport of falconry for thousands of years.
may be everyone's favorite, but the American kestrel,
followed by the merlin, are the most commonly seen
falcons during the hawk migration.
To See Migrating Hawks in Florida
What Is A Kettle of
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