Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - July 19, 2007)
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
The spring sun felt warm upon my face. The rains had finally abandoned the fields.
There were butterflies drying their wings from atop turned up sunflowers.
|Photo by LEE KARNEY
Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
|A Red-Tailed Hawk surveys his
territory from high upon a dead tree perch.
The blue sky contrasted with the bright, yellow-green newly unfurled leaves.
The scent of damp earth steamed into the air, then all of a sudden the apple tree
exploded into a burst of frantic activity, sending sparrows hiding and blue jays
screaming at the top of their lungs, frightening warnings.
Overhead I saw the cause for all this commotion, a red-tailed hawk swooped over
the field, disappearing among cornstalks then suddenly reappeared with a mouse
dangling from her talons.
I love hawks, but I just hate mice, my mother shuddered.
After observing many hawks take many a mouse, I asked my mother, Why
havent the mice learned to understand the bird language of warnings?
Itd certainly be to their benefit!
Oh gosh, girl, theres too many mice. Would love to see them all go!
Hooray to the hawks.
But mom, I prodded, without mice there wouldnt be any
hawks. Grinning she nodded and declared, Not much peace for the
meeces. We broke into laughter.
The red-tailed hawk, one of the most widespread and commonly seen hawks, was one
of the first birds of prey that I came to recognize as a young girl.
This bird, with its rounded, rusty-red tail banded with a thin dark line across
the feathers near the end, was easily identified from a distance as the hawk
glided, soared or swooped in the sky effortlessly over the fields; talons
outstretched, ready for action. They rarely hover.
When seen from below you may be able to notice a wide darkish, bellyband below its
white chest. Immature birds are harder to identify, for their color is darker. The
red on the tail is not as prominent and may not appear yet at all.
The three types of dark Red-tails are dark morph, rufous morph and Harlans
Hawk. Summer is one of the best times of the year to observe the red-tailed hawk.
There is an abundance of wild grains coming into maturity. As a result there is an
abundance of rodents, the red-tailed hawks favorite gourmet delight. The main
diet of the red-tailed hawk is rodents, although some small birds also fall prey to
this hunters expertise.
The red-tailed hawk is often observed perching on poles or treetops. They prefer
living in wooded areas with clearings, fields, meadows, or coolies nearby. For me
the most dependable way of recognizing this bird is its high-pitched scream,
keeer-r-r (slurring downward) seeming to come from all directions. When you hear
this, stop and look up and around. There is usually a scattering of birds for
shelter in the trees with numerous alarms being vocalized, but no meese
peace...back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.