The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Red-Tailed Hawk

As I am standing in the kitchen this morning – preparing my breakfast – I look out the window. Off in the distance I see a large bird fly high up into a pine tree. My first thought is "where are the binoculars?" When I remembered where they are – I got them. Peeking through the blinds I spot a large hawk in the tree. It is hard to see through the blinds so I decide to step out onto the deck to get a better look. The first thing I noticed was the coolness of the morning. (Temperatures in the 60's!) Then I find the hawk just in time to spy it drop something from the high perch. The hawk dove down toward the object. What was it? A chipmunk? Another bird? I decide to stand out on the deck a few moments to see where it will fly next. I am expecting it to fly back up into the tall pine. Then I see this large bird headed in my direction! It flies from across the street right past me on the deck. Clutched in its talons are a pine cone and a few pine needles. Is that what it was after? It can't be. All I can surmise is the intended target was missed and it grabbed this instead. As it flew past my deck and toward the wooded area of my backyard, it dropped the debris. It flew up to one of the highest points at the roadside edge of the trees. All I can think of now is that the chipmunks and squirrels better be quick and stay under the bushes this morning!

The hawk I spotted was a Red-Tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis). Buteo is the Latin word for falcon. Jamaicensis is Latin for belonging to Jamaica. The range of this hawk is from Alaska down to Jamaica and other West Indies islands. This hawk is seen often in winter as you drive along the interstate. You can spot them in the bare trees. They choose a high perch at the edge of woodland. This allows them to look out over fields and open areas searching for prey. The coloring of the hawk is a mottled brown with cream head, wings, and back. The red (a rusty red) can be seen on the upper side of the tail. From below the tail is paler. The hawk is large, measuring about 18 to 26 inches from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail. Its wing span is from 43 to 57 inches. The female is larger than the male. This hawk in one of the most common in the United States and is commonly known as a "chickenhawk." OK – now who just thought of that cartoon??

So where was my camera during all of this – in the house. It would have been nice to have it ready as the hawk flew across the back yard. If the hawk had landed in the trees facing the deck – yes I would have taken a shot – I would have been closer to its level from the deck. But since it was on the opposite side, my only choice would be standing far below and hoping to get something above – and, well – that shot would not be that good. My memory of watching the flight, the pine needles sticking out of its grasp, will have to suffice.

Spider Update: The spider in the photo on the blog "Charlotte" is missing. I find the two smaller ones near where her web was – but she is not there. What I do find close to her web is an egg sac, it has the color and look of a paper bag. It is the size of a large walnut. While I was in the backyard yesterday looking around I almost stepped on a baby toad. It was smaller than my pinky fingernail. There are still some tadpoles in the pond. Those may not morph into a frog until next year.

No comments:

Blog Top Sites

Arts Blogs