Rap­tors sighted at re­cy­cling cen­ter

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - News - By Lidia Ryan

STAM­FORD — North Stam­ford res­i­dent Michael Gor­man found him­self in a Hitch­cock­ian scene on Sept. 19 when he fol­lowed the sounds of a bald ea­gle to the Scofield­town Yard Re­cy­cling Cen­ter.

Gor­man, a self-pro­claimed “na­ture en­thu­si­ast,” iden­ti­fied the calls of a bald ea­gle as he was driv­ing through Stam­ford. He pulled into the re­cy­cling cen­ter to take pho­tos of the ea­gle, but it flew away as soon as he pulled up.

What he wit­nessed then was “sev­eral dozen” Cooper’s hawks, red-tailed hawks and Amer­i­can kestrels swarm­ing about the area.

“I tried tak­ing pic­tures, but I’d fo­cus on one, and one would fly right in front of me. They were just all around,” he said.

There’s no de­fin­i­tive an­swer to why so many rap­tors would be in one place. The city’s Re­cy­cling and San­i­ta­tion De­part­ment said rap­tors don’t nor­mally hang out there. The most likely an­swer is that Sept. 19 was a big mi­gra­tion day for hawks in the area.

“My ed­u­cated guess is that he hap­pened to pass by there when there was a big move dur­ing mi­gra­tion,” said Tom An­der­sen, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor at the Con­necti­cut Audubon So­ci­ety. “This is the time of year when they mi­grate, and they can mi­grate in waves, so it’s not in­cred­i­bly un­usual to see a lot of th­ese rap­tors at one time.”

This day seemed to have par­tic­u­larly good mi­gra­tory con­di­tions, as 667 rap­tors were also spot­ted at Quaker Ridge in Green­wich at one time, ac­cord­ing to a bird­ing log used by Con­necti­cut Audubon.

They mi­grate in large num­bers, An­der­sen said, to take ad­van­tage of the wind and heat from the sun, which causes ther­mals (pock­ets of warm air).

“The birds use the ther­mals to rise high into the sky, and then they take off to the south,” he said.

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