Sunday, June 1, 2014

Monthly Bird #6: Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk, light morph adult.
 I've had many incidents with Red-tailed Hawks. Last year was really crazy: Driving home from errands with the family, a Red-tail almost hits our car! Spotting him landing in a tree, we all get out and walk over to him. By the time we all get over there, he's eyeing a squirrel with hunger in his eyes. Wow, this is amazing, I thought the entire time. I had never been this close to any wild raptor before. Eventually he got intimidated by us and flew off, looking almost disappointed he didn't catch breakfast. So then we got back in the car to drive home. In the distance, however, I could see him flying away. I like to think that he caught breakfast.

Also, last year I got to watch Red-tails nesting and raising young! I never came up with a name for the dad, but the mom was Jenny and their son was Ralphy. Ralphy was a troublemaker, always harassing other animals, and constantly asking his mom for food. I was a little disappointed when I figured out that the other two eggs never hatched, but even so, I still see little Ralphy everywhere.

Yet again, I had another incident with a Red-tail (not surprising): Jenny flew two feet over my head! I had no idea she was so used to humans! Wow.

When soaring, Red-tails hold their wings like Turkey Vultures.
Red-tailed Hawks come in tons of different colours, varying from off white to jet black. The most common ones are usually lightish brown, though. Being the most common and widespread raptor in North America, they are very adaptable. You'll find them everywhere. Everywhere except forests, that is. Their preferred habitat is open fields, where the hawks can find mice, rabbits, voles, wood mice, and sometimes large birds, such as grouse and turkeys. You'll see them carrying food less than an ounce to over five pounds!

What I'm getting at here is that no matter where you go hawk watching, you're sure to see a Red-tail or two.

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