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Large bird with distinctive flight and wing shape?

6 years ago

I live in Appalachian S.E. Ohio and last week was driving through a huge expanse of reclaimed strip mine land, uninhabited and in a wild state. Up flies a large bird, at the tree line of a field and although I've been a birder for several decades, am totally flummoxed as how to identify it. It was light, maybe a dirty white to grey over more of the body I could see, definitely on the undersides. It had wings reminding me of a martin or swallow.....boomerang shaped when outstretched and they angled to the rear. How it flew fascinated me. It was like a swimmer doing the breaststroke, with the boomerang arms angled down into the air, never fully extended and the wind beat was relatively slow and it beat them steadily without gliding. It did not rise any higher than the tree tops and I was traveling 30 mph on the winding loose gravel road and it was moving a bit faster than I was. It was largish, the body at least the size of a chicken but with rather narrow wings, and the bottoms of them were black and the wingspan pretty impressing. It did not have the long neck one would associate with a swan or goose and pretty much put me in mind of the approximate size of a green heron. There are all sorts of terrain there, from deep forest to large ponds, so I don't even know if it were a water bird (though I didn't see anything but streams nearby) or a more typical bird of prey. I was trying to keep up with it and note landmarks, but if I'd paid any more attention would have run off the road and over a hill. Any ideas?

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