We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Birding is America's second-fastest growing hobby. It's a lot like hunting, but with binoculars. Most birders are not competitors like the ones described: most are people like me who just like to know what's around them and who like to walk and clamber around outdoors. I don't even keep lists anymore, and just enjoy seeing the critters.
It's the beginning, or middle, of hawk migration season in North America, and there are always plenty to be seen on the ridges and shorelines of the Northeast.
Bird guides are not too useful for identifying migrating buteos, eagles, ospreys, falcons, and accipters because the light in nature is rarely perfect, the birds can be quite high and in just dark silhouette, the birds can be immature birds of the year, they could be color morphs, or they might dash past low (like a Sharpie or a Cooper's) without time to get a good diagnosis.
It takes time with an expert to get the hang of it and to get the feel for specific hawks but in time anybody can learn to recognize them as easily as recognizing people.
These three are easy because their details are so well-illuminated in these pics, and because they are not flying at altitudes of 1000-2000 feet as they often do:
In New England, the most common migrating raptor is the Broad Wing, but I rarely see them in breeding season. They seem to hunker down quietly in the woods, like Cooper's, and hunt from a perch. Kettles of Broad Wings can number in the thousands as they ride the thermals to South America for the winter.
An excellent place to see large numbers of migrating hawks in the East, and to learn about them at the visitor center, is Hawk Mountain in eastern Pennsylvania. It's about 35 miles west of Allentown, 20 miles north of Reading.
During the fall migration it is possible to see hundreds of broadwings in a day, or a dozen or more bald eagles, and many other species of raptors. The North Lookout is a half hour stroll up the mountain to a beautiful rock outcropping with an excellent view up the mountain ridge. The Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association is a major conservation and educational resource.
Cape May, NJ is another hot spot, and many other mountains in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley section of Pennsylvania are also fine viewing locations.
Pix bordering on the fantastic, BD --sharp detail brings to mind those hawk eyes, hubble-telescope-like things, they say (but how do they know --oh yes, that they can spot a fieldmouse from a thousand yards in heavy cover).
I looked around yesterday and noticed my barn swallows were gone. There is at least 150 that live here. They were here late last week. It never ceases to amaze me how they all pack up and leave in one day.
Not being a birder beyond strongly admiring my personal Ospreys each season I couldn't say fersure. I will tellya that there was no shortage of people including a large contingent from across the pond. There was a LOT of some pretty darned hi-pow optics and cameras. They were just swooning at the sight of a Cape May Warbler
Couldn't spot the lil' beggar myself although, oddly enough, I do believe I have seen them in their winter quarters.
There was an equal or larger bunch of people who came to gawk at the butterflies. Gillions of them, maye even more. Everyfreakinwhere. Almost ate a few while bicycling. That'll teach me to keep my mouth shut.
We've lived in rural Knox Co., Ohio, for 31 years. We've always had a pair of red-tailed hawks--beautiful soarers. However, they disappeared last Spring. A Cooper's hawk took up residence nearby, and it flys through our woods regularly. The result being that the numerous birds that once visited our feeder have disappeared. The loss of the cardinals was dramatic as we frequently had 3 to 5 pairs in the yard. Squirrels have also gone into hiding.