Zone-tailed Hawk returns to Cedar Key area

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

I got this email from the FWC’s Tiffany Black this afternoon:

“The Zone-tailed Hawk was seen again by both my boyfriend Scott and I yesterday morning (5/25/2014) for about 5-8 minutes, calling (a scream – definitely different than anything else around here), pretty high up over our back yard. Had a birder come over who works with the USFWS at the Lower Suwannee NWR and unfortunately he didn’t see it. Sadly, we still weren’t able to get any photos. Though it’s frustrating on the picture front, this is exciting, as I feel now it might be hanging around. I was sure it had left for good. Feel free to email or call for details, directions, etc. If anyone wants to come look either from my home or the adjacent scrub property, they are welcome.”

I get the impression that most birders didn’t take this sighting very seriously, or perhaps they were just waiting for someone else to verify it first. I’m not presently able to do that, but it would certainly be worth the trouble of an extended sky watch if the state’s first chaseable Zone-tailed Hawk were the reward.

Ms. Black writes, “I live at 7850 SW 126th Terrace, Cedar Key, FL, 32625. I am OK with people parking in the yard and looking around. They can come on the porch if they want. I don’t mind; I am a birder so I know the drill. Scott is my boyfriend and should be here. Now, to clarify, we did NOT see it yesterday, and the views from the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve might afford better views.”

You can use an internet mapping program to find her address. The section of the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve that she refers to is on State Road 24 about three and a half miles west of the junction with County Road 345. Here’s a map of the Reserve: http://www.floridastateparks.org/cedarkeyscrub/doc/additionalinformation/cks-cks_trail_map.pdf

Ms. Black’s email is tiffany.black@myfwc.com

Urgent bluebird situation! plus a couple of rare hawks

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

Florida Wildlife Care is caring for a solitary Eastern Bluebird chick described as “five minutes to fledging.” Do any of you know of a Gainesville-area bluebird box with young nearly ready to fledge, into which this chick can be placed? Please let me know as soon as possible.

People have been seeing a Monk Parakeet in the general vicinity of NW 43rd Street and NW 53rd Avenue. He escaped from captivity last June and his former owners either couldn’t recapture him or didn’t make the effort. His name is Rio. Keep an eye out for him if you’re in the vicinity of Hunter’s Crossing. Alas, as an escaped cage bird he is uncountable. Alachua County is still waiting for its first countable Monk Parakeets. The closest we came was in March-May 2005, when a pair of Monks built a nest on the tower at Waldo Road and NE 31st Avenue and then abandoned it and disappeared.

An FWC biologist named Tiffany Black has reported a Zone-tailed Hawk about five miles inland from Cedar Key. She saw it on the 12th and 13th but not since then. She describes herself as an experienced birder who has seen Zone-tailed Hawks in Texas, has worked with the Hawk Migration Association of North America, and has seen several Short-tailed Hawks (the obvious species with which Zone-tailed might be confused in Florida) in the area without mistaking them for Zone-tailed Hawks. She describes the bird in question as dark bodied with long two-toned wings and a two-inch white stripe across its tail. She writes, “I live at 7850 SW 126th Terrace, Cedar Key, FL, 32625. I am OK with people parking in the yard and looking around. They can come on the porch if they want. I don’t mind; I am a birder so I know the drill. :) Scott is my boyfriend and should be here. Now, to clarify, we did NOT see it [on the 14th], and the views from the Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve might afford better views.” She means the section of the Reserve that is along State Road 24, about three and a half miles after the junction with County Road 345.

However, speaking of Short-tailed Hawks, Ignacio Rodriguez and Cristobal Pizarro found one at La Chua on the 6th, and John Hintermister and Felicia Lee saw the same bird (presumably) on the 11th and had it in view for several minutes as it soared over Alachua Sink. John wrote, “This was a dark morph bird. I saw a dark morph in the same spot last spring on 05/08/2013. The body,head and neck and the underwing coverts were black. The flight feathers and the tail were light gray. The tail had a dark terminal band. The secondaries and inner primaries were dark tipped and the outer primaries were dark.”

A couple of interesting bird-related stories from the New York Times: the clash of tradition with new technology in the World Series of Birding here, and a brief note about the discovery that radio signals can throw migrating birds off track, here.

Two weeks from this Sunday is June 1st. Seems to me that something happens then, but I can’t quite call it to mind….

Remember that bluebird!