Suburban Red-Tail Hawks

This lovely red tail is a female that inhabits my neighborhood summer and winter.  A week or so ago, I saw her with a long twig in her beak.  I watched her fly to a couple of tall pines behind a neighbor’s house so I hope that means we’ll have red tail babies like we did last year.

She has a mate, a male who’s a real scaredy-cat.  I tried to get a photo of him in our tree last week–he was very close–but before I could, one of the squirrels ran up the tree and chased him away.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a squirrel chase a hawk before!  I’ve seen 2-3 crows chasing a hawk in flight–that behavior is called “mobbing.”  And interestingly enough, I’ve even seen smaller birds doing it to a crow. I presume the crow had stolen their eggs, but perhaps not–perhaps they were just imitating the crow’s behavior.

Here in the suburbs, hawks and other wildlife are common enough occurrences that we don’t feel compelled to name them–at least I don’t.  The Spoiler has named our frog “Freddie,” but that’s about as far as it goes.  No wildlife naming on a regular basis–and certainly not of the hawks, like they do in New York.  I think Pale Male is on his third female–I can’t even keep track of them all at this point. But surely it’s wonderful that wildlife is appreciated, even in the city.

Hawk babies emit this unearthly high-pitched cheep/squeal.  When I hear it I almost wonder if something is being killed at first. The sound from the Macaulay Library at Cornell is only half the sound, really–it’s the squeal part.  Imagine that as a cheep as well.  It would make a great horror movie sound effect.

In any case we are really blessed to have the hawks in the neighborhood.  They help keep the population of small rodents–chipmunks, mice, occasionally squirrels–in check.  And the fewer mice we have, the lower the incidence of Lyme disease there should be.  But that’s a post for another day.

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