Slumbering ‘Coon, Waking Broad-wingeds

By Derek Stoner, Education Program Assistant

A lovely waterfall cascades over an old mill dam on Burrows Run.
A lovely waterfall cascades over an old mill dam on Burrows Run.

Walking along the beautiful Burrows Run, with its clean and clear water, we admired the cascade flowing over the remnants of a dam.  Past activities of humans still slow the flow of the stream, long after the mill has disappeared.

On Wednesday our birding group visited a lovely estate just two miles north of Ashland Nature Center, where Burrows Run flows through before entering the Delaware Nature Society’s Burrows Run Preserve.  We found colorful migrant birds like Northern Parula, Black-and-white Warbler, and American Redstart, but the creature that stole the show wore a black mask.

A raccoon reclines high in its hollow tree home.
A raccoon reclines high in its hollow tree home.
Sharp-eyed Carol spotted a raccoon sleeping in the hollow of an old white oak tree.  The raccoon shifted around in its wooden bed, and actually appeared to yawn a few times!  Laying on its back with its head out the hole and towards the sky, the ‘coon seemed to be enjoying a good nap. 
A Broad-winged Hawk circles low overhead, after leaving its morning roost.
A Broad-winged Hawk circles low overhead, after leaving its morning roost.
 As we entered a field, a raptor came gliding low overhead.  A Broad-winged Hawk!  As we scanned around, we saw groups of Broad-wingeds rising up from the trees in the surrounding valley.  These raptors spent the night roosted in the forest, and now they arose to resume their migration south. 
A small flock, or "kettle" of four Broad-winged Hawks rises in the sky.
A small flock, or "kettle" of four Broad-winged Hawks rises in the sky.
In just 40 minutes, we counted 237 Broad-winged Hawks as they lifted off and headed south.  A phone call to Cyrus at the Ashland Hawk Watch confirmed that these same groups of hawks were reaching his location 4-5 minutes after we saw them pass. 
The movements of these migrant hawks may seem magical and mysterious, but we can definitely understand the raccoon’s need for a nap!  
Photos by Derek Stoner 

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