Date: 11/6/17 12:03 pm
From: 'Ross Silcock' <silcock...> [NEBirds] <NEBirds...>
Subject: [NEBirds] Harris's Hawk Niobrara- Yes
Thanks Bill Flack for finding this bird, and Joel Jorgensen for posting the
sighting early this morning.

After reading Billís eBird checklist comments and great photo of the perched
bird, I decided to head for Niobrara. I left Tabor, Iowa at 11.15 pm, drove
to Niobrara arriving at 3.30 am, and parked for a couple hours sleep in the
deserted downtown business district. At 6.50 am I drove to the bridge over
the Morman Canal and scanned the area north of the bridge where Bill Flack
found this amazing bird, but no luck. I decided to drive into the State Park
just down the road west and circled around to the right once inside the park
gate and down to the RV pads. There is a row of them along the west bank of
the canal, providing a good view of the area. I started at the south end, no
luck. Walked north and at the far north end of the pads, a fairly large,
blackish bird flushed from a perch out of sight from me. I recognized it
immediately as a Harrisís Hawk, having seen many in Texas. It flew across
the canal to the east and obligingly perched in full view about 15 ft up in
a medium-sized tree. This sighting was at 7.10 am, just after the 7 am
sunrise, so light was good for binoculars (Swarovski 10 X 42) but not for my
camera. In flight the bird was spectacular; it was overall dark
brownish-black, partly due to the light, causing the starkly white rump and
distal tail band to stand out beautifully, like two bright lights. When
perched, the bird looked overall dark brown, except for the
cleanly-demarcated rufous-brown left wing. The bird perched facing ĺ away
from me, and the angle precluded my seeing the other wing or any detail in
the tail. I took several photos, but the poor light resulted in none being
recognizable. After a couple of minutes of good views, the bird casually
flapped its way further east into the willows and out of sight. I drove back
east and parked between the canal and river bridges and walked north perhaps
500 yards into the willows and along the canalís east bank, and checked the
snags in the open, marshy area east of the canal-lining willows. I was not
able to relocate the bird. No-one else had arrived by 8.15, so I decided to
return home in Tabor, Iowa.

I suspect the Harrisís Hawk is still in the area, and recommend a possible
strategy of setting up at the Niobrara State Park RV pads on the west bank
of the Mormon Canal and watching.


Ross Silcock

Seasonal Reports Compiler

Nebraska Bird Review

Tabor, IA


Join us on Facebook!