the opposite of a hawk watch | this count is one where the hawkwatchers are on the move and hawks -- more or less -- aren't. These "Winter Counts" are now conducted around Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Groundhog Day in two locations with similar open, flat terrain and of approx. the same square miles.
Interestingly, the Northern Harriers and Short-eared Owls were in serious transition earlier in the month. Their numbers dropped off the charts by Christmas.
With a hundred Roughleg sample, there are some interesting changes. Young birds still dominated the counts, but adults have filtered in... especially, dark adults in Northern NY. In addition, a few of the birds list as adults were subadult individuals: retaining some juv. feathers. This Winter, most adult Roughlegs that were down here for the last two years in the low rodent years, stayed well North because the food supply that accounted for their reproductive success last Summer is sustaining them and allowing them to remain nearer to home.
While immature Redtails --basically the same number -- shifted in plumage type toward hooded and away from pale-headed, indicating the August dispersal birds moved out mostly and birds from more northerly populations with western-like features were on the move, South.
Lake Champlain Lake Plain VT
10 Roughlegs [6 light, 4 dark]
Hawk Food: 442 Snow Buntings, 350 Redpolls [1 flock], 88 A Robins, 43 Horned Larks, 6 Wild Turkeys, 5 Lapland Longspurs, 1 Red-winged Blackbird [female].
North Country NY
40 Rough-legged Hawks [27 light morph;13 dark]
And... 1 Northern Shrike.
Hawk food: 46 Wild Turkeys, 6 Horned Larks, 1 Double-crested Cormorant, list definitely limited by heavy rain.