Love in the time of hawks

April 25, 2011 • 2:34 pm

Today we have two nice photos submitted by readers.

The first, sent by Doc Bill, shows him in a moment of affectionate communion with his beloved tabby Kink (Felis catus), so named because of a 70-degree bend in his tail.

And reader Lynn Wilhelm snapped a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) in the bushes near her home. She recounts:

I was driving from a client’s house and saw the hawk swoop across the street and into a 10’ tall holly tree.  A neighbor was standing nearby at her mailbox and missed the landing.  I was able to get some pics while it hung out in the tree for about 5 minutes.  I don’t know if it’s a young, inexperienced one or not, but it didn’t seem too interested in us.  I thought maybe it was after a bird’s nest because a mockingbird started bugging it, but found no nest in the tree.  I can’t believe I got within about 10’ of this gorgeous bird, hardly had to zoom at all.  The mockingbird hung out and eventually the hawk flew up to a higher nearby pine with the mockingbird still after it.  After a bit the hawk got fed up and slowly flew off with the mockingbird on its tail.

32 thoughts on “Love in the time of hawks

  1. Ouch! Holly leaves — pointy!!!

    I got about that close to a Coopers hawk a while back at a wildlife sanctuary. For a while, it looked at me trying to figure out if I was delicious or not.

    It decided not and flew off.

    I saw a 60 Minutes episode recently about falconry that showed a golden eagle taking down a deer. Talk about an efficient predator.

    1. This one looked scared/nervous. I find it hard to believe that mockingbird caused that.

      Oh, yeah, this was in Cary, NC.

      By the way, Jerry, it’s “her” and “she”.

          1. Sorry if that comment sounded snarky, Jerry. It was my sad attempt at humor, you are not the first to make that assumption on the interwebs.

            I am very honored to have my pic on your site.
            Thank you.

        1. You got the first bit right, Kevin, and that’s why I ended up down here. My dad was with IBM–back in the good old days. I’ve stayed and like it here.

          No pharma for me (beyond what I swallow) just landscape design.

  2. When my mother retired, he favorite pastime when nothing else intruded was to sit in the kitchen and watch birds in the yard. To this end, we enabled her habit on every gift-giving occasion with new birdfeeders, field guides and other similar stuff.

    One fall, she started talking about an owl she kept seeing in the yard, but nobody else in the family saw it (keeping in mind the rarity of daytime appearances, we nontheless humored her). Finally, one afternoon, I was working at the kitchen table with one of my students when he looked out the window and said, “Holy shit!”. I looked out and saw mom’s owl, perched atop one of the feeders – but not quite.

    That evening, over dinner, I said, “Well, mom, I finally saw your ‘owl’. It’s not an owl – it’s a hawk.”

    I have no idea, however, what particular type of hawk it was. I’m not that good with birds.

    1. “I’m not that good with birds.”

      Me, either. I spent countless hours at my desk, looking out the window at the feeder. All I ever saw was little brown birds. But then one day when I made that comment at a different er, blebsite, someone told me that I wasn’t really looking. I’ve learned how to identify several different species, but they’re still all brown.

  3. The hawk had probably just visited the mocking birds nest and the fiesty MB was chasing it and it got into the bush for protection. MB nests are in very low bushes or small trees and the crows also try to get at their nest. I have seen two MB’s at a time chasing crows. Even without a visit to their nest MB’s are territorial and will even chase other MB’s out of their area. When I see it I always remember what Henry Fonda (Harley)

    1. It’s taken time to capture this! Kink often sits on my lap and looks up, but every time I try to position a camera he runs off. This time I used Photo Booth on my MacBook Pro and sneaked a shot!

      1. Just love that shared gaze! What a wonderful capture! Says so much about the affinity of our two species…

        Kink looks a lot like our new pound adoptee. Could we get a pic of that tail, please?!

  4. If that patch of reddish brown apparently in the tail region of the hawk is indeed part of the bird’s tail, it’s an adult Red-tailed Hawk, not young and inexperienced. Well, perhaps inexperienced with that location or with holly trees or . . . but it had to be a pretty accomplished hunter to make it to adulthood.

    1. I suppose it is an adult, but the banding on its tail doesn’t look too strong. I have another pic that shows its tail better. Got a bunch of pics after I realized I had my camera in the car. Heck, I’ve only seen stuffed birds anywhere near this close, so had to consult my bird book to see if I could tell it was a young one.

      The holly didn’t have a really great perching branch for such a big bird, so it was rather ungainly getting its footing when it moved to this spot. I got pics of wings and tail flapping whilst the hawk found its balance.

  5. Awww!!!! I luff the kitteh picture. Reminds me of my Bianca. I miss her so much. She was cuddly and gregarious just like that (tiny and grey too!)
    Beautiful hawk!

    1. Ah, great to see more images! Lynn, I am SO jealous! Hawks ALWAYS see me way before I see them, and I’d kill to get that close.

      We have a resident red-tail that I see several times a week, and I’ve been wondering if these hawks have been known to key in on disturbances? I have seen it seeming to appear in conjunction with deer traipsing across the field, and surmised it might be looking to see if the deer are scattering rodents…I also saw a red-tail in the fencerow several days in a row when the neighboring landowner was plowing a few years ago…

      Also–my understanding was that buteo sized hawks probably weren’t exactly built for nest robbing…but I wonder if they might be after something else that was after the songbird’s nest?

      1. I wish I knew what got that mockingbird so upset. At first I thought the MB was only responding to the hawk in the holly, but in retrospect I thought maybe it was chasing the Buteo before then. Maybe the hawk just got too close to the MB.
        I’m glad you enjoyed the extra pics and one day I hope to get as close to a beautiful wild bird like that. Never thought I would yesterday.

  6. Geez, I love that pic of Kink and Doc Bill.

    And urban predators are always a fascination. 13 or 14 years ago, when Keeshu & Bryxie were young, we had a juvenile red-tail smack into one of our front windows and hang on the screen, semi-stunned, for about 5 minutes. S/he must have been going after a bird in our shrubs, and thought the open window was an escape route. We spent the 5 minutes trying to identify the hawk with Sibley’s and the two Grrrls were absolutely fascinated. Didn’t take a pic, though. Might not have had any film.

    1. Film, I remember that. Then you had to fill up the roll, take it to get developed, pick it up from developer, show it to friends…

      What a change digital cameras have made. Shoot it, download it, post it, share it all over the world… Amazing, isn’t it?.

      1. And now I have to scan all that old stuff back into j-pegs. If we’d had digital then, I would have a picture of it. Love your pic.

  7. The redtails around here never let us get near, though we often hear them above. Cooper’s hawks are common at low level in the neighborhood, not to mention Sandhill cranes.

    I love spring!

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