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The gray hawk is generally gray in color, with dark bars on the chest. It has a long tail with horizontal stripes, and white wing undersides with darker leading edges, as pictured.
This bird was spotted in Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains west of Sierra Vista, AZ. This is rugged undeveloped terrain. The canyon has a year-round creek, and is wooded with sycamore, cottonwood, oak, maple and pine, and is a part of the Coronado National Forest. This is one of the sky islands in the southwest, which support a large diversity of wildlife above the surrounding desert floor. The hawk has a nest in a sycamore tree, as pictured in the 4th photo above, at about the 5,500’ altitude.
This was a unique spotting, as the gray hawk is found in just a two isolated areas in the US…extreme southeastern Arizona, and in Texas in the Big Bend Rio Grande River area. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the gray hawk only migrates north into the US during breeding season in the summer, so chances of spotting them in the US are few. The main food source for gray hawks is the whiptail lizard, and in this area they are plentiful. At the time we first spotted this hawk, it was perched in a tree looking for prey, 2nd photo above. According to the ‘locals’ at a nearby ranch, this hawk and mate raised one chick earlier this spring, which has since left the nest.
Spotted on Jun 15, 2017
Submitted on Jun 26, 2017
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