Whether this is a female Red Tailed Hawk I don’t recall. I remember however when I was video (ing?) the set I made photos of I made the determination he was a she. They are such beautiful birds, another of my favorites, (I make that comment a lot.)
They have many mutations of color it’s hard (for me) at times to determine if the Red Tails are Northern Harriers. They have different hunting habits, the Harrier flies low along the Levee top showing it’s belly as it goes. The Red Tail is a soarer (is that proper?) diving headlong towards Terra firma. Humans have a tendency to think the Raptors have an unfair advantage with their stealth and speed.
Their hunting failures rate (as most predators) hovers around the 80% range. I was watching a clutch of Rabbits, debating whether to set my camera up (the answer is Yes, always) when a diving Hawk swooped down missing the Rabbit and slammed into the redwood fence. She shook herself off stumbling around for a moment then took flight, landing on the gate to recover.
Animals cover the entire spectrum of athleticism, some are very co-ordinated and others, well not so very much. I watched a Squirrel fall off of an electrical cable onto the road below. I had seen him around frequently and noticed his lack of athletic ability but didn’t realize it would be his undoing.
The photo above was taken during a pause in a week long rain, she is drying off and doesn’t appear too happy about it. It’s the same tree the bird is in as the top image before the sky cleared.
The following pictures are of her after perching for over an hour deciding to get on with her day. She most likely has a brood and male awaiting her return.
It’s interesting to catch a sequence of landing or taking flight, in the image above she just at that moment leaped releasing her talons from the Pecan Tree branch.
Not to be deceived her wingspan is close to 4 feet (1.21 meters) a large bird she displays how adapt they are when surrounded by branches. Freed from the perch she has her eye on an escape route surprisingly below a branch versus over it.
She appears to be heading directly into the branches, I have every confidence she knows more about what she’s doing than I do.
From a different perspective her escape route appears to be limited. It was a long rain squall which lasted just over a week. At the base of this tree a small pond was formed, it’s not surprising as before the Levees were built when this island was a swamp.
This blog took a slightly different direction until I went over the pictures and decided to write it about this encounter. I haven’t seen the Hawks too often this past summer, although they don’t migrate long distances; moving from island to island is not out of the question.
Truly we live in a flying world, many mammals have adapted to what I’m sure is viewed by them as “the human invasion”. The birds are most visible of the two animal groups. The Canadian Honkers, Mud-hens, and Ducks of many species will arrive soon;
I hear the hunters in the distance. Shotguns in the distance conjure up my curiosity as to what they are shooting at; I have yet to see a flock of geese or ducks and I’m out here looking every day.
This is where I gather strength. My spirit is free next to the river, from here every place in the world is accessible by water. The drums are playing for me but I’m unable to follow, that time will arrive, I won’t wish my life away.
Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance