Northern Harrier in courtship display @ Blackrock

Observers: J. Zatorski
Remote Name:
Date: 03/21/2005
Time: 08:11 PM -0500


Okay, NOHA is a common enough bird in our area, and I see them regularly when in the field or just driving around the valley. Their typical slow soaring just inches over the vegetation is an easy ID. Today, however, I spotted a hawk of some type flying in a manner I had not noticed in the past. I was ingulfed with the flight display of a bird darting straight up and then falling over its head backwards in an open spiral and then making short swoops, all the while calling in what I would best describe as Chucker-like clucks. The bird this over and over again. Once I got my binochulars on the acrobat, I was quite suprised that it turned out to be a Northern Harrier. I heard similar calling coming from the marsh in front of me. All total I saw 6 birds performing this flight display and calling to one another. Another un-Harrier-like flight two of the birds were doing was a slow upward spiral (presumingly on a thermal) with both wings and tail opened as wide as they go and the legs hanging straight down which made the two look as if they were kites on a string. Nature is so cool!