A large Harlan's hawk has wintered on or near our Littleton, Colorado, farm over the past decade and returned again today. This dark subspecies of the red-tailed hawk breeds in Alaska and western Canada; come autumn, they migrate to the southern High Plains, primarily from Colorado to West Texas.
Like all red-tailed hawks, this buteo feeds on small mammals, hunting from a perch or soaring above fields and open grasslands. Usually seen alone during the colder months, Harlan's hawks are bulky in appearance (partly due to their dark plumage) and may be mistaken for golden eagles.
I welcome "Harly's" return to the farm. Our large population of cottontails and meadow voles should keep him around for most of the season; besides, he loves to perch in our large, old catalpa tree, which commands a broad view of the pastures and "lawns."