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Emily Blaikie – Field Research Technician
Broad-winged Hawks are small stocky hawks of the buteo genus commonly found throughout Northeastern and North central North America. Their backs are brown and they have chestnut barring on the chest and abdomen. They have a notable black and white striped tail visible during flight and produce a high pitched whistle call which is an easy identifier. They are more secretive during nesting season but can be spotted in the thousands during migration. These huge flocks are called kettles.
We are currently looking for active Broad-winged Hawk nests throughout Vermont. The goal is to find at least 6 nests this season and monitor them so we have a better idea of where to search again next year. This project will continue next season when we will be fitting 3 adult birds that return to territories with GPS units so we can track them during migration as part of Hawk Mountain’s Broad-winged Hawk Project. We are asking for help in looking for active nests. If you or anyone you know is aware of a Broad-winged Hawk nest, or has a raptor nest they are aware of but unable to identify the occupant, please let us know!
Here are some tips for identifying a Broad-winged Hawk nest or territory…
Broad-winged Hawks typically nest in deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests. The height of the nest in the tree varies, but most commonly in the lower third of the canopy. In deciduous trees, nests are usually located in the first main pocket of connected limbs. Nests in conifers usually on a cluster of horizontal branches against the trunk. While old nests of the same or other species can be renovated and reused, new nests are typically built each year. The outside nest diameter averages between 11”-20”. The female does most of the nest construction, though they can both be observed carrying dead sticks in their talons or smaller building material such as bark chips or sprigs in the beak.
Individuals are easiest to spot when circling high above the forest, a probable territorial behavior during breeding season. While moving through the forest, they typically move from branch to branch in short flights.
Vocalizations can be an effective indicator of an active nest. They can be heard between the pair during courtship, while nest building, and especially by the female when the male approaches or leaves the nest. They are quite vocal during most of the breeding season and vocalizations can also occur during food transfer during incubation or when protecting the nest from predators.
Again, if you or anyone you know is aware of a Broad-winged Hawk nest, or has a raptor nest they are aware of but unable to identify, please let us know! Submit a sighting form below:
Broad-winged Hawk Nest Sighting Form
I am quite sure that we have a broad-winged pair nesting on our property, and have been for the past 2 or 3 years (I don’t know if they usually return to the same location, and so don’t really know if it is the same pair). But I have never taken the time to try to locate a nest–and I will make an effort to do so now. I have seen them perched in trees on the edge of one of our clearings, and flying across the clearing.
(our place in VT is in Bethel, almost abutting Stockbridge and Rochester, and quite close to the Rochester Gap; 50 acres of mixed woods, primarily conifer but with a fair amount of deciduous trees mixed in)
When do the Broad-wings tend to fledge their young? Is this getting a bit late in the season?
I am in Plainfield NH not sure if you can cross the border but I am sure I have a nesting pair very near my house and have had for the past few years. I see them most every day and absolutely hear them multiple times a day. We have a mixture of woods in the back with a field out front. We have a surplus of garter snakes, voles, and mice.
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