Sunday, August 19, 2001

They're baaaack! (the Black-and-white Hawk-Eagles, that is)

If you still haven’t seen a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle it must mean you haven’t been to the Kaufmann Cerro Azul Villa lately, as the species has become a regular (The horror! The horror!) up there. As you certainly must remember, Bill Porteous et al. found one there on November 10th, 2000, perched on a tree in the backyard. Well, on Sunday, August 12th, at around 3 P.M. Camilo Montañez, Tim Mitzen and Katie Svihlik saw one fly up from the valley and perch on the same tree. After they had great scope views the bird flew off and started soaring in circles above the yard, as a second individual perched in the same tree, where it was joined by the first one. The pair stayed in place, preening, for about 15 minutes, after which one darted off into the valley, not to be seen again. The second bird stayed for another 15 minutes, until a bunch of Swallow-tailed Kites chased it off.
Then on Wednesday, August 15th, Rosabel, José Tejada and Joseph and Susan Bartell stopped to check the backyard after a morning of birding around Cerro Azul. At around 1 P.M. a supposed White Hawk soaring over the valley was determined by José to be a Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle. José got to see the black crest held flat against the head (not erect), the black wings with a white leading edge and the fine barring on the undewing. The broad wings were tipped black and the tail was barred. The head, chest and underparts were very white, and it had a black mask. It circled over the house a few times, then flew up high enough to dissapear in the clouds for a moment, and then dove at break-neck speed into the forest.
On the early afternoon of Sunday, August 19th Junior Auduboner Rogney Kibilan spotted and identified one (and alerted Darién Montañez, who was idling on a hammock in the back porch). The bird was soaring over the valley, flapping every now and then, circled over the yard a few times and then flew off to the right. Just after it was out of sight a different (?) bird was spotted flying against the dark backdrop of the distant mountains, which allowed for better looks at its fieldmarks: white head with a black crest, black mask and bright orange cere, black upperwing with a white leading edge, white underparts, barred tail, finely barred flight feathers, darker on the tips of the primaries. We wainted until this second bird flew out of sight to rush into de house and alert the rest of the group (Carmen Martino and Rosbel and Karl Kaufmann). Good thing they all had seen it before, otherwise I don't think we would have lived to tell our tale.

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