Harris’s Hawk, Parabuteo unicinctus
Ascension Parish, north side of US 61 about one half mile west of intersection with Motavit Road.
December 26, 2000
Around 11:00 AM CST.
Jay V. Huner
428 Hickory Hill Drive
Boyce, LA 71409
I was returning from a deer hunting trip in the woods between Sorrento and the Sunshine Bridge with George Snyder and John Boyce. They both saw the bird but it would be difficult to identify them as birders – just active sportsmen who noticed the bird to be unlike any hawk they had ever seen.
The bird was adjacent to US 61 but was spending a good bit of time on private property – McElroy Swamp – and I was nebulous about the location because I didn’t want birders trespassing. However, at least one group of birders later reported on LABIRD seeing the bird in approximately the same location within the following week. I simply don’t remember who they were.
Bird was on north side of US 61 perched on a snag across the drainage canal from the highway. Light was good.
Swift 10 x 42 binoculars. Good condition.
Approximately 50 yards when first seen from the east bound lane of US 61 and then 25 yards when we turned around and drove back to see the bird in the westbound lane.
Riparian woods between canal and large crawfish ponds.
Bird was perched on a bare snag and basically remained on the snag during the observation period. It turned its head occasionally.
Large hawk. We were stuck by the overall black body, yellow bill and rufous shoulders. We saw no evidence of a band or bands on the legs.
Bird was silent.
Don’t know of any other species of hawk that is similar enough to be confused with a Harris’s Hawk. Because falconers regularly own Harris’s Hawks, the bird could have been an escapee. We saw no bands on the legs and the people who later relocated the bird did not report bands.
I had seen the species in Texas both before and after this encounter.