Bird #174 — Northern Goshawk

accipiter (a hawk) gentilis (belonging to the same noble clan)

Sunday, July 6, 1980 — 7:15 am

McNaughton, Wisconsin — Mom and Dad’s house — Spider Lake

This one was fun.  I was wandering around outside the house looking for birds.  Off through the woods behind the house, I heard six or seven crows making a racket.  I could tell they were mobbing something.  I walked down through the black spruce bog in the direction of the noise, not knowing what to expect.

As I approached the lake, I saw a large bird fly up from the ground and land in a spruce about 25 feet away.  I got a fairly good look at it through the branches for a few seconds before it flew away.  The crows took off after it, cawing loudly.

Still being pretty new at birding (I’d been doing it for just over a year), I wasn’t sure what it was I saw.  I went back to the house and pulled out the field guides.  I thought it was probably a Goshawk, but I wasn’t sure enough to count it.

At 7:45, just half an hour later, I was outside wandering around again.  I was suddenly handed the sort of opportunity that birders never get.  It was deja vu all over again.  The crows were calling down by the lake.  I walked down to the shore.  Again, from the same general area, I saw the bird fly up and land in a spruce, this time about 50 feet away.  I managed to get a clear view, and now I knew what I was looking for.  It sat in the same spot for about four minutes and then flew to a branch in the top of the very spruce I was standing under.  It perched there for about 15 seconds, ducked a dive-bombing crow, and took off followed closely by the flock of crows.

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