Young hawks of several common local species are fledging right now. Even after they fledge, many continue to beg for food from the parents – often loudly and incessantly, in a shrill, high-pitched scream. I have been getting numerous photos and inquiries about noisy hawks acting more tamely than expected and hanging out in residential areas.
Many of the young birds, while capable of flight, end up on the ground in residential areas if that is where the nest was. Sometimes the chicks stay together for a time after fledging, visiting bird baths or lining up on a limb as a family group. The adults are very likely still around and tending to the recently fledged young. Unless a bird is obviously injured or sick, there is no need to call for assistance.
The most expected species are the red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk and Cooper’s hawk. Broad-winged hawks are also a possibility, but that species is much less common than the others.
Often there is confusion as to what species they are. Juvenile plumages of our local hawks vary from that of the adult plumage. While adults can be very attractively marked, the juveniles are mostly brown with more vertical streaking on the chest and belly. For a comparison and description of adult and immature plumages of local hawks, check my blog at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me photos if you see juvenile hawks in your area.
Other appearances in July include dispersing herons from areas farther south or east where they breed. Two herons are common breeders in Mecklenburg County: the great blue heron and green heron. Yellow-crowned night-herons also nest here but are rare and very local.
Most often, white herons – like great egrets, little blue heron immatures and snowy egrets – are noticed, but other species that are less common also show up. A large dispersing flock of great egrets was seen last weekend at Cowan’s Ford Refuge in Huntersville. Check out neighborhood retention ponds, apartment or park lakes and any other wetlands for these large and conspicuous birds. If you notice an odd or different wader, try to get a photo and send it to me. It might turn out to be something noteworthy.
Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com. Check out his blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com.