The two rehabilitated, but permanently captive, Swainson's Hawks from the Raptor Center put on their usual good show for the crowd. Afterwards, the group headed to the river to look at nest sites from past years to see who was occupying them this year. There have been few Swainson's Hawks sightings this year but the event lived up to its billing.
Today was certainly one for raptors. There were white-tailed kites and red-tails over the landfill mound before even leaving the parking lot. Kestrels, red-shouldered hawks, and a cooper's hawk made themselves known to the group as we travelled down the levee. When we got the scopes up on the nest sites, three large great-horned owl chicks were very visible and a good reason why any Swainson's hawks would be elsewhere this year. A dark phased Swainson's hawk soared directly overhead before it crossed back over the river. We quickly spotted a second dark phase Swainson's and noticed they were nest building in a nearby cottonwood.
Other good sightings included belted kingfishers that are probably nesting in the far bank across the river. Nearer, we saw kestrels, magpies, and a small wren were all engaged nesting activity that gave the group lots to look at. A few better birders spotted a small flock of whimbrel which likely hasn't been picked up on the FORB species list before today. Other birds seen scrub jays, crows, doves, magpies, black phobe, mockingbirds, starlings, mallards, great blue heron, white-tailed kite, cooper's hawk, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, swainson's hawk, kestrel, house wren (nesting in snag), white-crowned sparrow, rock dove, etc.
Quite an event as everyone seemed to get good views of these birds and others including kites. We all really enjoyed the mix of sun, children having fun, and some nice bird sightings and shared knowledge from local experts. Very good event indeed!