Sunday, March 14, 2010


We still have quite a bit of snow on the ground. It's amazing how long it takes for for a snow pack of 5 feet to melt. Winters in this neck of the woods can be long and I have found that the best way to survive them is to stay busy and use the snow and cold to ones advantage. I really enjoy snowshoeing and this has been a great year for it. Not only is it great exercise, but it's actually much easier to get around the woods when there is a thick blanket of snow on the ground. All that underbrush that one gets tangled in during the summer is half buried and a lot easier to walk over. I picked a very remote area in the town of Berne today to do some snowshoeing. It's an area that I rarely visit and thought it would be fun to explore.

I was a couple of hours into my journey and so far things had been fairly quiet. I was moving along the edge of a stand of conifers and thought I caught a glimpse of something quietly moving through the trees. Whatever it was, it was shadowing me along my right side. I finally stopped and was able to get my bins on who was watching me.

It was a Northern Goshawk! Whoa.... Not everyday that someone gets a good look at one of these birds. They're not all that uncommon up here during the winter as a few usually decide to stop and hang around as they were migrating south from their more northern environs. Usually they give just brief views as they fly from a perch on the side of the road or are spotted flying overhead.

What happened next really surprised me. The bird flew closer, perched overhead and started vocalizing. They sound a lot like a giant, hen Wild Turkey. A loud, squeaky "Kek, Kek, Kek, Kek...".

It soon became apparent that this bird was not at all happy that I was there. Goshawks are know to be very territorial and this bird was showing all the signs of it.

They also really fluff up there undertail coverts during the breeding season as is shown well in this photo.

The vocalizing continued and it was obvious that this bird had no intentions of going anywhere. A nesting Northern Goshawk in this area is fairly uncommon. To find a territory and then a nest is even rarer.

I had to remind myself not to think too far ahead as so far only one bird has been spotted, and just because a bird is being territorial does not mean that it has found a mate or has decided to nest. I will certainly be stopping back in the future.

Later in the day I took a ride down to check on the Common Raven nest. The female was still on the nest incubating the eggs. All the snow and cold weather that we have been having have not slowed them down a bit. Some great signs (albeit small) of spring today.

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