I first saw this small hawk through the single French door in the back. It was busily plucking a dead mourning dove on the lawn. It had apparently made the kill a few feet away on the terrace, as evidenced by the small pool of blood and feathers on the stonework.
After consulting The Sibley Guide to Birds, I judged it must be a broad-winged hawk. Its small size and wide tail stripes were definitive. This is the smallest of all hawks, and occurs throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada.
But this wasn’t just any broad-wing; it was the rare dark morph, which my neighbor, Jim, a birder of some experience, confirmed. According to Sibley, the dark morph is rare in the Great Plains where it breeds, and rarer still this far from home.
Fearing my subject might fly off at any moment, I snapped a few quick shots through the insulating glass and screen, resigning myself to a fuzzy image. To open a door or window was out of the question. So, I tip-toed out the front door and sneaked quietly around to the back for a cleaner shot. By the time I got there, however, the rare bird had flown off and taken its prey with it, leaving only a forlorn puddle of gray and white feathers on the lawn.
The date was September 15, 2014, and the time, 6:31 pm. Click the image to view it full screen, and click the back arrow to return. Cursor over the image to see its description. Enjoy!