Leonard and I were walking between the North and South Elkins Barns at Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Lassen County CA) when we saw a rough legged hawk (Buteo lagopus) soaring overhead.
Leonard and I keep records of when the first spring migrants arrive – for example, sandhill cranes in early February, willets about April 1st and northern orioles near May 1st while common nighthawks do not return to Big Valley until late May or even early June. It is more difficult to determine when the last of a species departs in the spring or the fall so I do not record those movements.
Rough legged hawks winter in lower Canada and the United States. Spring migration takes these Buteos to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. Without any data to back up our impression other than casual observations over many years, the rough legged hawks seem to be late leaving for their summer homes this year. Late or not, Leonard and I enjoy watching these beautiful raptors on our daily hikes.