Do you think that you might be able to provide a detailed description, or, better yet, a photograph, of the hawk you have been seeing in your yard? I ask because a sighting of a single Broad-winged Hawk in Vermont in mid-March would be extremely rare, and it would be great to have some sort of documentation for the Vermont bird records if that is in fact what you are seeing.
I say that the sighting of a Broad-winged Hawk in Vermont in March would be very rare because:
1. This species winters almost entirely in South America and Central America, and is the last migrant raptor to return to northeastern North America.
2. The typical arrival date for Broad-winged Hawk at major hawkwatch sites like Derby Hill, NY is mid-April.
3. This species is famous for migrating en masse in large kettles, so when it is first spotted in an area, it is usually seen in large numbers, rather than just one or two individuals
A quick way to check on the status of a spring migrant is to go to www.birdingonthe.net and do a search of North American RBAs at
There are only two RBAs in the entire country reporting Broad-winged Hawk right now--Vermont and western Massachusetts. Since this species migrates north through Mexico into the U.S., one would expect reports from Texas and the central U.S. before any in the Northeast.
The HMANA (Hawk Migration Assoc. of N. America) web site www.hmana.org is a great place to find data on the various hawkwatches in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. This web site shows that Veracruz, Mexico just had its first push of Broad-winged Hawks on March 16-17, and even then, the numbers were only in the hundreds. (It is not uncommon for a hawkwatch to count *thousands* of Broad-wings in a day during peak migration.)
Finally, a visit to the Derby Hill web site http://www.derbyhill.org/ shows both the mid-April arrival of Broad-wings, and their propensity for showing up in large numbers, rather than in dribs and drabs like other raptors. Last year, the first sighting at Derby Hill (where there is a paid hawk counter present all day, every day) was April 16, as it was in 2004. In 2003, the first Broad-winged sighting was on April 14, and in 2002 it was April 12.
These are all great web sites to visit if you are interested in Broad-winged Hawks and other migrating raptors. I encourage everybody to check them out!
Subject: Broad-winged hawk
From: Shelagh Smith <vdxshelagh AT YAHOO.COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 01:31:48 -0800
The Broad-winged Hawk has reclaimed his territory. I was sitting on my couch idly looking out the window to find he was looking back at me! He spent an hour on a maple branch and wasn't bothered by my darting from window to window with the binos. He finally cruised around the meadow, just above the ground, before leaving. Male Bluebird in the garden, good thing we got the boxes up! What do they find to eat at this time of year? Shelagh Smith in Leicester.