I Do Not Know What Soars By On Migration!
(Ajax, Ontario, Canada)
I live in Ajax, Ontairo, 21 years now in the same spot! Next door to the Ajax Hospital, this is relevant to the wildlife I see here and all year long! On the North side of me, is the helicopter pad and a huge field for the Hospital, and wildlife too. West backing onto the helipad is a LARGE Woodlot, across this on the south side is a 2nd woodlot, and a 3rd deep wilder woodlot that connects the south/west two.
These 3 connected woodlots are small (as in town sized) but very OLD for this town dating back unknown decades. This makes for very close and fascinating wildlife sights from my home here.
Today is October 18th, 2014, it has been very rainy & chilly the past week, it is overcast today still very chilly and windier, it feels more like November already. The darker daytime sky makes it easier to see a lovely pair of big raptors I see every fall, and today soaring on the cold winds, I noticed the lovely soaring pair about 4 pm.
They love to soar over the 3 woodlots that have abundant squirrels, rabbits, voles, mice etc., for them, even roaming cats and sadly feral cats. The pair I watch are always brown, not huge, yet larger and stronger flyers than the resident crows.
On the north (Helipad area) and going west joining that large woodlot, is a massive den network - a Red Fox family bred there, now Coyotes also den and even howl there, as there is much good "shopping" for them. Crows have (for generations too) massive nests near the den site, in fact every March when the crows start their noisy nest swoops, I know spring is here to stay very soon. This is also where I spotted the big brown raptors soar today and even swoop for a closer look at the crows nests! I can see size wise, the soaring brown pair are a fair bit larger and stronger, faster, flyers than the crows. (Interesting the crows lay low and keep quiet while the stealthy pair are near too).
They seem to love to soar on the cold fall winds most. If food is below they will swoop lower & so fast they do get very close, yet shy-like, they are just as fast to turn, fly back up to soar higher again. It seems preferring to soar more than hunt. I forgot until today, every fall I will see this lovely pair soar on the cold fall winds and for several weeks, I guess they are mates as I always see a pair at a time only.
I love to see this from my living room window, how relaxed they seem just soaring on the winds, so cold I have no doubts they are migrating. I am just clueless as to the type of raptors I am seeing, and so want to know, what species are they?
Falcons, Harriers, Hawks etc. it gets confusing, but they are too small to be Eagles? (pretty sure that is a bigger raptor) This pair is always brown, not striped with the classic Red Tail the common hawk has (I know this guy from our cottage we had a solitary Red Tail Hawk, same missing feathers years in a row, told me it was the same bird).
My Ajax pair are bigger than this Red Tailed Hawk, no white that I can see either, even in full sun they are just all brown big beauties. They soar higher than the others too and so stealth like, I know they came from further north of Ajax, yet they are too small to be an Eagle or Vulture even. (We get Turkey Vultures soar over our cottage skies too, way bigger again).
Does anyone have a clue the type of raptor I see soaring here? I would love to know what they are exactly. My lovely "air show" will end quickly as it gets even colder, they`re always gone soon after Halloween and/or early November, it all depends on how fast it remains too cold. (and I`m sure food supply).
I apologize for so lengthy here as I am camera deprived for now, I will try get photos before they are gone if possible. In the meantime I simply would appreciate any tips to ID this pair of brown raptors, or photos to help me figure out what species is so faithful to my woodlot area. Cold fall after fall and brief as they stay, they are so awesome to watch soar around here.
After two decades these woodlots have educated me so much, I could write more books on the Fox den adventures alone and now Coyote activities! So as I crave to learn, any feedback on this seasons brown raptors, I so look forward to!
Thanks for reading - Cindy in Ajax Woodlots.
EDIT: Two days after I wrote this, out my bay window saw a pair the brown big wings gliding, then oh no there are 4 up high westward floating on the wind, to my amazement I kept counting 2, 4, oh my ..... 11?
There were at least 5 pairs soaring, not one wing flap, so graceful & relaxed, getting so chilly. I had my cell ready, but fast as the breeze blew up, they dispersed before my eyes, the last pair glided along the lake most, very high up to the west, last I have seen them for the season!
It is now February and I have my eyes peeled for any big birds to return! Interesting to me, I was so sure was a pair, only to see up to 12 that last cold day we had a real wintry chill in the sunny breezes, now I have space on my cell, I am so ready to try get a photo when they glide back this way!
Any help still I`d so appreciate the education on what is in our air spaces out here.
Thanks so much for posting here for me too! ~ Cindy
Thank you Cindy, for sending us your charming report and update, of the wildlife you observe from your home.
Perhaps one of our readers will be able to figure out what kind of raptor you are seeing.
Again, thank you!