Christine's All-Weather Field Notes: 8/20/14
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 11:06 AM
On Monday evening, I walked around Norton's Pond in the slanting sun of late summer that cast longer shadows than in July. The fall weather had arrived, too. It was cool and clear.
When I ducked off the camp road onto a woodland trail, I heard the piercing two-note whistle of a broad-winged hawk in the trees overhead, but couldn't see it. With their short tails and solid build, the broad wingeds are the welterweights of the hawk world, a sort of Sugar Ray Robinson kind of bird - agile and maneuverable in the forest, where they dive on chipmunks and frogs. You're unlikely to find them out in the open, preening in a Muhammad Ali kind of way like a red-tailed hawk or a bald eagle, though groups of them gather to migrate south this time of year.
I've seen several broad-winged hawks this year in and around the woods. They have been nesting nearby. The most surprising site was last week near Tumbledown Mountain in western Maine. One flew across the road in front of my car carrying a black-and-white striped animal the size of a red squirrel.
After a bit of surprise and a bit more research to confirm the possibility that the hawk would eat it, I concluded the hawk had just caught a baby skunk for dinner.
Christine Parrish, a former field biologist technician, spent a college summer working with peregrine falcons in Vermont.