15-21 June 2000

Installment #---Visitor #

(Back to Preceding Week; on to Next Week)

Photos © Hilton Pond Center

  • Even though Hilton Pond Center lacks substantial open spaces, we still frequently see big birds soaring overhead. Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) and Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) are daily visitors to our airspace, and it's not unusual to observe a pair of Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) riding the thermals overhead. There are also Broad-winged Hawks (Buteo platypterus) and Red-shouldered Hawks (Buteo lineatus) that breed in the woods nearby, if not on the Center itself. The local red-shouldereds often hang around the pond, perching on trees from which they scan for prey that includes frogs, chipmunks, and small birds. Rarely, a red-shouldered gets caught in one of our mist nets; in the 19 years since we've been banding birds at Hilton Pond Center, we've captured just five of them--two in 1993, two in 1995, and one on 15 June 2000.
  • This week's Red-shouldered Hawk (above) was pretty scruffy; it was in heavy molt, with last year's dull and tattered wing and tail feathers being replaced sequentially by smooth and shiny new ones (right). The bird was small--indicating it probably was a male--and the overall plumage characteristics and muddy brown eye color showed it was a second-year bird hatched in 1999. Unlike our breeding Broad-winged Hawks that overwinter in South America, it's likely that some Hilton Pond red-shouldereds are year-round residents, while others that are non-breeders may float in and out of the area during summer. Local populations of this species appear to increase in winter as birds from further north migrate in to take advantage of milder temperatures in the Carolina Piedmont.
  • It's always tricky to take a hawk out of a mist net; they're usually on their backs with legs and talons extended toward the approaching bander, and the bander must beware. The Red-shouldered Hawk in these photos was fairly docile and--like most buteos--never attempted to use its sharply hooked beak as a weapon; however, the bander never let go of those powerful legs, lest the talons provide a permanent memento of the day's hawk-banding encounter. Hawk the size of red-shouldereds require special lock-on bands; these include two flanges that fold together to keep the hawks from prying the bands open with their powerful beaks.
  • A Red-shouldered Hawk banded on 24 May 1995 at Hilton Pond Center was recaptured this year on 16 May 2000. This bird was at least seven years old, but the oldest banded red-shouldered authenticated by the federal Bird Banding Laboratory was at least 19 years and 11 months old. One raptor researcher is reported to have a color-marked Red-shouldered Hawk on his study site that is at least 24 years old!
All photos © Hilton Pond Center

Eastern Phoebe
(Medium-sized flycatcher with no eyering;
lower mandible black; nest of green moss)

Downy Woodpecker (fledgling)
(Young males AND females may have red on TOP of head; adult males have red on nape)

Plus the following species not pictured
(or pictured on other weekly pages):

Eastern Phoebe
Northern Cardinal
Gray Catbird
Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Wood Thrush
Carolina Wren
Blue Grosbeak
Red-shouldered Hawk
(see above)


All photos © Hilton Pond Center

This Week at Hilton Pond
is part of the








NOTE: An apparent adult female Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, Dendroica coronata, was observed twice on 19 June in a bird bath at Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.

The bird was seen from a distance of 20 feet with naked eye and through 10x binoculars at about 7 pm EDT. The two observations totalled three minutes and occurred in good light with unobstructed view. Observers included Bill Hilton Jr. and Susan Hilton. The bird was seen momentarily in the bird bath again on 21 June at 5:30 pm.

The yellow crown, flanks, and rump patch were clearly visible as the bird fanned its feathers in the water. A dark (but not black) mask surrounded each eye, and the dorsal plumage appeared gray-black; these plumage characters indicated that the bird was probably a female. Wing bars were white but not pronounced. Prominent white spots on the outer tail feathers indicated the bird was likely at least a year old.

There are almost no substantiated summer records for this species in South Carolina; in fact, yellow-rumps may be considered "accidental" at this time of year. Only one record (16 July 1940, Berkeley County, with no details) is included in Status and Distribution of South Carolina Birds (Post and Gauthreaux 1989). Typical breeding range for the species is Canada and the northern tier of the U.S.

Back to Preceding Week; on to Next Week

Up to Top of Page

Back to This Week at
Hilton Pond Center

Current Weather Conditions at Hilton Pond Center


Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.