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Raptors on the Move: Kestrels, Mississippi Kites and Swainson’s Hawks – and many American White Pelicans!

October 20, 2012

By Rafael Galvez

An excellent day at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch. The highlight was 435 American Kestrels for the day (photo above by Ted Keyel). Of course another triple-digit Peregrine Falcon day – 201 – added to the excitement. Our total of 2899 birds is no surprise; birds were migrating non-stop throughout the day. We kept the site open an hour and a half later and harriers were still flying by; we tallied 139 for the day! And who would have thought we would still be seeing Mississippi Kites this late in the fall; we tallied 10! Swainson’s Hawks have started moving through, and today was our best tally for that species this season to date with 14.

Totals for October 20, 2011:
Turkey Vulture –  1050
Osprey –  24
Bald Eagle –   1
Northern Harrier –  139
Sharp-shinned Hawk –  287
Cooper’s Hawk –  87
Red-shouldered Hawk –  3
Broad-winged Hawk –  590
American Kestrel –  435
Merlin –  52
Peregrine Falcon –  201
Unknown Raptor –  2
Mississippi Kite –  10
Short-tailed Hawk –  4
Swainson’s Hawk –  14
Total –  2899

2012 Season Totals to date:
Turkey Vulture – 1881
Osprey – 1379
Bald Eagle – 15
Northern Harrier – 738
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1754
Cooper’s Hawk – 609
Red-shouldered Hawk – 17
Broad-winged Hawk – 5575
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
American Kestrel – 2240
Merlin – 518
Peregrine Falcon – 3745
Unknown Accipiter – 1
Unknown Falcon – 5
Unknown Raptor – 24
Swallow-tailed Kite – 40
Mississippi Kite – 95
Short-tailed Hawk – 28
Swainson’s Hawk – 27
Total – 18,693

The morning kicked off with an amazing flight of large bands of American White Pelicans, totalling 1797! Photo by Ted Keyel.

We thoroughly enjoyed what must have been one of the highest visitation days at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch, and it was fantastic to see novices and experienced staring at the sky filled with birds. It was great to see new and old friends at the deck. We much enjoyed spending time with Gina and Adam Kent and Angel and Mariel Abreu. Kevan Sunderland found the day’s first Mississippi Kite, and Linda brought us brownies! It was great to see John Haire and Carl Edwards at the site, and to have the falcon-eyes couple Tom and Caryn pay us another visit. Other visitors included Caroline, Tom, Milo, & Quincey Defreze, Kevin Leigh, Bernie and John Cooper, David and Jean Rennado, Grace and Lou Jimenez, Philip, Emrich, and Zack, Thomas Gilfoy, Bill and Nancy LaFramboise, Jane Simmons, Debie L. Smith and Paddy Cunningham with her great Birding Adventures group.

And how could have we pulled of this day without the fantastic help of our core team of counters, which today included the amazing Colleen and Charles Caudill, Ryan Mong, Ted Keyel, and Rafael Galvez. Thanks also to Ruth and Carey Parks and Bob Stalnaker, who left yesterday but were extremely helpful throughout the week.

And who would not want to be in the Keys now, with so many exciting birds around? Heck, there is even a Fork-tailed Flycatcher down the road!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Butterfield permalink
    October 21, 2012 11:47 am

    Great report. Keep up the good work.

    Mary B.

  2. October 21, 2012 3:32 pm

    Love the overall season tally ~1,000 away from a new high seasonal count as well and in 2,011 you tallied 5,141 birds from October 21 – Nov 13. Seems a certainty you’ll crack the 20,000 bird mark for the first time easily!

  3. Michelle Davis permalink
    October 23, 2012 11:16 pm

    Now if all those raptors can keep from eating the Fork-tailed flycatcher….

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