The Young Red-Tailed Hawk Visit….

Posted by Posted in Backyard Birding, Nature & Wildlife, Photography Posted on 05-01-2008

In December of this past year, 2007, I was heading outside to rake some leaves. A weekly chore at my house in the fall and early winter since I am surrounded by a number of oak trees. When I walked out of the carport I looked up at the trees to see how many leaves were yet to fall. I immediately noticed a hawk sitting on one of the limbs just above my carport. Given the fact that it was a hawk I immediately stepped back under the carport eave and wondered if I had even the slightest hope of going in and getting my camera and getting a photo or two. I stepped back into the house, grabbed one of my cameras, stepped back outside and eased around to the side where I hoped I could get off a snap or two.

Below was my first shot as I sneak out from under the carport eave to get that first shot. I wonder who he was looking at? Yea… I was the King of Stealth or something. If you know anything about hawks or Indians… just don’t sneak up on them!

Young Hawk - 05(Click on image to enlarge)

My presence, as it turns out, seemed to have no affect on the hawk at all. I then stepped right out in the open, walked around taking a few shots and the hawk was completely disinterested in me. Oh he kept a discerning eye on me but oddly enough showed no uneasiness whatsoever.

I could tell it was a young hawk but was somewhat unsure about the species. It’s stocky build made me think it was a Red-Tailed Hawk along with its stubby tail feathers but everything in my being told me that no Red-Tailed Hawk, young or otherwise, would sit still for what I was doing. They would fly off in a heartbeat……or so I thought! There are also a number of Cooper’s Hawks about of which I am not as familiar so I was hesitant about making a positive ID on the hawk.

The next posted photos show various poses of the hawk. I began to get the feeling that the young hawk was apparently quite taken with himself. He certainly wasn’t concerned about my presence or the camera. On the contrary….

Young Hawk - 01(Click on image to enlarge)

Young Hawk - 02(Click on image to enlarge)

Young Hawk - 03(Click on image to enlarge)

Young Hawk - 04(Click on image to enlarge)

I finally decided my work was done with regard to the photo session so I put the camera up, got out the rake, and began raking leaves. And the hawk? Well for at least another half-hour he simply sat there taking in the sites with little concern toward me.

Now Robins will often watch me rake leaves and hop around nearby in the hopes of me turning over a fresh and tasty morsel as I toil through the leaves. I began to think that surely the hawk was not waiting for me to turn some leaves and have a chubby little ground squirrel or rabbit go scurrying off presenting itself for his breakfast?

At some point I looked up and he was gone. I was a bit disappointed that I did not get to see him fly off because it would have given me a much better clue as to whether he was a Cooper’s Hawk or a Red-Tailed Hawk.

Today I decided I would make an entry in my journal about the experience but was still somewhat unsure about the exact identity of the hawk. I finally decided to contact Mike of “Mike’s Digiscoping Blog” and solicit his expertise. Mike was quick to respond with help but to his credit, he turned it into a learning experience rather than just putting the answer out there and letting that be the end of it. I still remain puzzled at the audacity and calmness of the Red-Tailed Hawk but very appreciative that he chose my oak tree for his display.