Saturday, July 12, 2014
Unseasonal Red-tailed Hawk in East Jefferson
Today as I drove westbound on Earhardt between Clearview and David Drive, a large raptor cruised over the highway. I anticipated it would be one of the usual Red-shouldered Hawks of the area, but was surprised how white it was underneath. Then it swooped up to a roadside perch, fanning the dorsal orange surface of its tail in my direction: adult Red-tailed Hawk!
Redtails nest on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, but not typically on the south side. This bird is presumably a post-breeding wanderer. This phenomenon- late summer dispersal of birds to the south side of the lake from nesting areas on the north side- is of regular occurrence in some species- such as Belted Kingfisher. But it's not usually exhibited by Redtails. A Eastern Towhee reported a day or two ago in City Park may well be a post-breeding wanderer from the North Shore, since they do not usually nest there. Post-breeding dispersal is perhaps most famous in the herons and egrets- wandering individuals of which are eagerly anticipated by birders in the northern states, for whom this phenomenon provides the best chance of seeing them.