Date: 11/29/17 8:48 pm
From: Tom Wilberding <twilberding...>
Subject: [cobirds] Rough-legged Hawks, Elbert and Lincoln Counties


Barb and I were pleased to see 9 Rough-legged Hawks, all light morph, this
afternoon in Elbert and Lincoln counties.


- 3 south of Matheson on Elbert CR 149 to CR 66, spaced a couple of
miles apart.
- 2 more, a male and a female, at the top of a tree east of that
junction, 149 & 66. (Seemed unusual for a solitary hawk species in
non-breeding season.)
- 4 more along I-70 between Limon and Bovina, spaced a couple of miles
apart.

We also saw a Prairie Falcon, and two prairie Merlins, all spaced far apart.

It seems that during some winters Rough-legged Hawks are fairly common in
Colorado, other winters not so much. They eat lemmings in the Arctic, so
maybe their numbers fluctuate with the lemming population, like Snowy Owls.
I wonder if anyone keeps an annual Colorado census of this sort? I wasn’t
able to glean such data from eBird.

Horned larks were not abundant for us today, and no Lapland Longspurs
despite many patches of freshly plowed earth.

More on Rough-legged Hawks from the internet, if you’re interested:

As Swainson’s Hawks retreat to South America, Rough-legged Hawks descend
from the Arctic tundra to take their place. *Buteo lagopus. “*Lagopus” is
Greek for “feet like a hare’s”*. *Yep, they’re sort of furry, covered with
feathers, like ptarmigan, another Arctic bird. John James Audubon called it
Rough-legged Falcon. Wikipedia calls it Rough-legged Buzzard.

They breed in the Arctic and Subarctic regions of North America and
Eurasia, the only buteo that has a complete circumpolar distribution. Along
with the kestrels, kites and osprey, this is one of the few birds of prey
to hover regularly--we saw that activity today. There are three subspecies.

They have small talons and prey on small rodents, like lemmings and voles,
but are also known to take young snow buntings *and Lapland longspurs*.
(Yes, my excuse!) They can live 19 years in the wild.

Good winter birding!
Tom Wilberding
Littleton, Colorado


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