Big Bald MAPS flies to the finish with Broad-winged Hawk

Future ornithologists touch an immature Broad-winged Hawk at Big Bald

The Big Bald MAPS station finished the 2012 season with a unique bird capture. A dozen MAPS station visitors and volunteers were treated  to a rare close-up examination of a Broad-winged Hawk, one of only two of this species ever captured at Big Bald in 8 seasons of effort. The Broad-winged Hawk is a common but seldom-seen breeding bird of the northern hardwood forests of the southern Appalachians.  It arrives during April in the southern mountains and quickly disappears into the newly green forests, building stick nests high in the tree canopy. In late summer, immature fledglings, like the one captured and banded at the MAPS station at Big Bald, emerge and roam the woods searching for food like snakes, insects, small mammals and songbirds.  If our immature Broad-winged Hawk survives the summer, it will join with hundreds of thousands of other Broad-winged Hawks that migrate in large flocks during Autumn, flying all the way to their winter home in South America. On September 25, 2011, Big Bald Hawkwatch volunteers recorded over 7,600 Broad-winged Hawks flying south past Big Bald during one BIG day!!!  With enough chipmunk snacks, our MAPS Broad-winged Hawk will join that fantastic exodus next month.