May 9, 2012

This observation is the continuation of a previous post. The previous article can be found here Red-tailed Hawk – Nest Update 2

The female was sitting high atop the cell phone tower today when I arrived. From her vantage point she was doing the double duty of keeping an eye on her young as well as watching for her mate to return with breakfast.

Soon, the male did return, but he was empty handed. He circled the nest a couple of times and even attempted landing up close to the female. He aborted this attempt at the last second, possibly detecting the females displeasure with his lack of production this morning.

In any case, the male flew away to the north and was soon gone from sight.

Meanwhile, one of the juvenile birds decided to do some morning stretches. His fast growing flight feathers were easily visible. He was clearly beginning to take on the brown coloration of a more mature bird.

At some point while I was photographing the juvenile, the adult male returned and landed at the top of the tower right next to the female. This is when things really started getting exciting.

The male was still empty handed, so he did not stay atop the tower long. He soon launched himself into the air and did a remarkable dive straight toward my position. I was not prepared for what happened next.

The hawk zoomed by my position and briefly disappeared behind the tree I was standing next to. I expected him to continue on and possible enter the neighborhood behind me.

Instead, I heard the starlings congregated in a tree behind me call out in alarm. I turned just in time to see our male hawk crash headlong into the thickest part of the tree. Starling and leaves erupted, going every which way.

The hawk dug himself out of the tree and flew to the roof of a nearby business before I could bring my camera to bear. Again he was empty handed. The hunt had been a failure. It just wasn’t this poor hawk’s morning. And, to add insult to injury, an aggressive Northern Mockingbird began to harassing the marauding hawk, and soon drove him away.

The nest appeared empty today when I arrived. But, in reality, the juvenile hawks were just hunkered down safely out of sight.
The female was sitting high atop the cell phone tower. From her vantage point she was doing the double duty of keeping an eye on her young as well as watching for her mate to return with breakfast. The arrows indicate the female (above) and the nest (below).
Soon, the male did return, but he was empty handed.
He circled the nest a couple of times and even attempted landing up close to the female.
He aborted this attempt at the last second, possibly detecting the females displeasure with his lack of production this morning.
The male Red-tailed Hawk circling his nest.
In any case, the male flew away to the north and was soon gone from sight.
Meanwhile, one of the juvenile birds decided to do some morning stretches.
His fast growing flight feathers were easily visible.
He was clearly beginning to take on the brown coloration of a more mature bird.
At some point while I was photographing the juvenile, the adult male returned and landed at the top of the tower right next to the female. There are four birds in this photograph, The two Red-tailed Hawks, a bold European Starling, and the jet airliner high above them!
That’s a European Starling to the left of the hawks. This is the same kind of bird that the male hawk brought back to the nest in last week’s observation. Red-tailed Hawks will clearly hunt starlings when they have the opportunity. This starling, however, seems unafraid.
The male soon launched himself into the air and did a remarkable dive straight toward my position. I was not prepared for what happened next.
The male Red-tailed Hawk headed toward my position.
The hawk zoomed by my position and briefly disappeared behind the tree I was standing next to. I expected him to continue on and possible enter the neighborhood behind me. Instead, I heard the starlings congregated in a tree behind me call out in alarm. I turned just in time to see our male hawk crash headlong into the thickest part of the tree. Starling and leaves erupted, going every which way.
The hawk dug himself out of the tree and flew to the roof of a nearby business before I could bring my camera to bear. Again he was empty handed.
Landing on the roof of the Auto Zone.
The hunt had been a failure. It just wasn’t this poor hawk’s morning. And, to add insult to injury, an aggressive Northern Mockingbird began to harassing the marauding hawk.
Northern Mockingbirds do not like Red-tailed Hawks!
The mockingbird soon was able to drive the hawk away.
Flying away to try again.

This observation is continued here: Red-tailed Hawk – Nest Update 4