Friday, January 4, 2013

Zone-tailed Hawk, perched in the rain

I didn't get over to Frontera Audubon in Weslaco yesterday (Jan 3) because I was participating in the Bentsen Christmas Bird Count on the west side of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Today it was raining but I thought I would give it a try since I expected that most hawks would be perching. Boy oh boy, almost all the vultures were perching and often hunched over so it made scanning them for the Zone-tailed Hawk more challenging. After looking unsuccessfully for about a half hour I left and drove over to Estero Llano Grande which is only about 5-10 minutes away. I returned to Frontera after I left Estero to do another check for one of the Zone-tailed Hawks. It only took a few minutes for me to spot it in a deciduous tree, one with lots of leaves so it was very difficult to see it's field marks and to photograph it without approaching closer and I did not want to flush it especially on such an awful day for hawks, vultures, etc. So I did not see it's tail. I saw the limited amount of white around it's face that I saw with the adult and I did not see the white on it's breast (tho I did not see this when I first saw the juvenile) or nape that I saw on the juvenile. So I think this is the adult Zone-tailed, though with the caveat of only a 'likely' adult. The photo can be enlarged by clicking on it to see the facial features but the quality degrades. (note: I had checked the tree I found it in during my first checked; and after finding I left and returned 45 min later and it was gone again.) SeEtta

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Spotted the juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk perched again today


A Zone-tailed a day keeps the doldrums away--that's how it's worked so far even on a cold rainy day like today. I did drive over to Frontera Audubon Center and spotted the juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk perched at mid-morning (like many vultures were doing due to the weather that does not provide the lift for low energy flight). It was located way behind some branches on a deciduous tree, one that this time still has some leaves on it that help obscure the hawk. I was concerned that in order to get better photos I risked disturbing the hawk and flushing it so made due with these.
Previously I had seen this hawk in deciduous trees without leaves and that makes getting good photos a lot more likely. It has used a number of trees both deciduous and palm so always a question where I might find it. The hawks head is totally obscured in this bottom pic but it shows the juvenile tail patterning nicely. SeEtta

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A second Zone-tailed Hawk, an adult--for sure


I found this Zone-tailed Hawk this afternoon perched in a tree on Frontera Audubon Center's property. As soon as I spotted it I knew it was a Zone-tailed Hawk-it had the jizz.
When I got my binoculars on it I could see it has a blackish head and body, a black bill with bright yellow cere, yellow feet, and white lores (white forehead was not visible in the field or in my photos). Also as characteristic of Zone-tails, this perched bird shows it's long wings extend past the tail (easily seen in bottom pic).

Though I erroneously identified the juvenile Zone-tailed seen in the afternoon on Dec. 26 as an adult, this one is definitely an adult: it has white bands on the ventral (underside) of it's tail. So there are two Zone-tailed Hawks at Frontera Audubon, this adult and the juvenile that I posted about earlier (note: photos can be enlarged for even closer viewing by double clicking on them) SeEtta

Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Frontera Audubon warbler-Black-throated Green

This Black-throated Green Warbler came in with several other warblers to bath in their water feature. SeEtta

American Redstart at Frontera Audubon Center


In addition to the Zone-tailed Hawk, there were some nice warblers wintering at Frontera Audubon Center in Weslaco,TX including this female American Redstart. In the top pic she fans her tail, a behavioral characteristic associated with this species. SeEtta

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zone-tailed Hawk, down for a drink--appears there was just one hawk


These are photos I got of the juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk that I spotted at a pond day before yesterday. It was there to drink water--it drank about 8-10 times while I watched. Kind of surprising as I have never seen a hawk drinking water.

Clearly these photos show the most detail of any I have taken. They show that the hawk's right eye has something wrong with it that causes it to bulge. In looking at these photos I have realized that I was mistaken in thinking that there were two Zone-tailed Hawks. The bulging eye photographed at some angles of view gave the impression that the bird was a different hawk; now I believe there is only one Zone-tailed, a juvenile.

It is interesting that all that white on this hawk's chest was not evident in the other photos--distance from the bird and lighting conditions would have been involved. SeEtta