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Ferruginous Hawks

  • Blog Post by: Jim Williams
  • July 7, 2012 - 9:05 AM

 Ferruginous Hawk, the largest of North America's hawks, is a tough find in Minnesota. The bird's usual range barely gets into eastern South Dakota. Minnesota Ferruginous are rare strays. If you're looking to add one to your Minnesota list you can look a long time; luck helps.

Seeing birds not usually seen in Minnesota is one of the pleasures we -- Jude and I -- enjoy when we travel west. A few days ago in Wyoming, on a beautiful drive from Laramie to Casper, we found a power-pole nest containing three young Ferruginous Hawks. If they hadn't fledged they were very close to it. The nest was ragged, no doubt reflecting the movements of three large fledglings. The post was 80 yards beyond that usual fence that borders highways. I took photos from the fence. Two minutes into shooting, two adult Ferruginous Hawks appeared from nowhere, flying directly to the nest from some distant point, circling above me as I worked. The young birds stayed put, watching me closely.

I know of no nesting records for this species in Minnesota. This was a special sighting for us. Ferruginous was the only hawk species we saw in thaat 125-mile drive, two other adults seen hunting along the highway. Our other encounters with this species have been in South Dakota, west of the Missouri River.

Here are photos of one of the parents of the nest-bound birds, plus those birds themselves.

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