The Hobby of Birding

Q. Do you think we will see Snowy Owls again this winter? (FALL 2012)

That was an incredibly rare event that is highly unlikely to repeat itself for many years. But this does bring up a great point. We never know what the change in seasons will bring into our area. We are getting early word of some winter invaders already. Record numbers of Red Crossbills have been reported moving southward, Pine Siskins have been seen in our area and I have already had a Red-breasted Nuthatch visit my peanut feeder. What does it all mean?

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Q. I saw big hawks this winter that looked like Red-tails but had big patches of white on their tail. What were they?

Without a picture, it is hard to be 100% certain, but I can tell you that this has been a really good winter for Rough-legged Hawks. These northern invaders have been fairly scarce in our parts the past few winters, but the low grass conditions due to our drought seem to really favor their hunting preferences. Like Red-tails they vary in color quite a bit but the best features to key in on are the dark “wrist” marks on the underside of the wing, the very dark lower belly band and the wide black tail band near the tip.

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Q. I am looking for a good spotting scope but don’t want to spend a lot?

The definition of “a lot “ varies widely with people so I am going to address the ‘good’ part of this question with a couple of options. To me, for a spotting scope to qualify as good, it needs to be in the 80mm exit pupil class and should have the “high end” glass. Some companies call it HD glass, others ED. If a company puts their high end lenses into their optics, it usually means they have included better prisms and coatings as well. The scope should waterproof and fogproof. I feel like we have found a scope that fits the bill.

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