Short-tailed Hawk at Hague Dairy

From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

I took two visiting birders to the Hague Dairy on Monday to see the shorebirds congregating in the flooded fields. At about 1:30, as we walked along one of the dikes enclosing the lagoon, I saw a hawk circling up from the trees just ahead of us. I called the other birders’ attention to it, and all three of us watched as it swept overhead, showing a black head and throat, black underparts, black wing linings, and barred flight feathers and tail. A Short-tailed Hawk! The bird wasn’t in a rush to get away, and we had it under observation for five minutes as it circled up and joined a kettle of Black Vultures. Eventually our attention was drawn elsewhere, and the next time we looked it was gone.

At this time of year, I’d expect any Short-tailed Hawk seen in the Gainesville area to be passing through on its way south, so I didn’t bother to send out an alert. I did post the sighting to eBird, where it was noted by a couple of local birders. And today two of them emailed me. Adam Zions told me that he’d seen it on Sunday, soaring among the Black Vultures. And John Hintermister saw it today: “It got up with the vultures at about 12 noon. I’ll bet it is roosting in that swamp behind the parking lot.” He got a documentary photo.

So it’s been there for five days, at least. Maybe it will stick around a little longer. It’s been seen kettling with vultures on three out of three occasions, so that gives you some idea what to look for, if you go after it. Good luck!

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