Bird watching year after year, you begin to have favorite birds that visit your feeders. You know the comings and goings of the common feeder birds as they stop by to eat each day; sparrows early in the day, scrub jays perched on top, the titmouse speeding in and out.
But sometimes you have birds that bless you with a rare visit...not even to the feeder but still close to your yard and within binocular range of your front window. We have had several hawk visitors over the years that we have observed in this way. This week there was a bird on the telephone wire across the street from our house. I spotted it from the window and then grabbed my binoculars. I grabbed my "big" camera with the really good zoom lens and stepped outside and across the street to see if I could capture him in an image.
It was as if he was posing for me. The look on his face was cautiously curious. I snapped away and here are a couple of frames that really give you a feel for this beautiful hawk.
I think he is a Red-shouldered hawk, both from the description in my field guide, looking at AllAboutBirds, and listening to him as he later soared up in the sky.
Isn't this a magnificent bird? Look at all those colorful feathers and the patterns are amazing. All hawks are beauties but this one is especially beautiful...I am in awe.
Here is what AllAboutBirds.com says about the call of the Red-shouldered hawk:
"A Red-shouldered Hawk’s most common call is a plaintive, rising whistle that sounds like kee-ahh. The call tends to be repeated 5–12 times, with each note lasting about half a second. Hawks use it to claim their territory and when alarmed."
So now that I can listen for the two syllable call (kee-aah) of the Red-shouldered hawk, I will easily be able to identify it when I hear it while on hikes. There are several other hawks I hear from time to time and they are much different:
Sharp-shinned hawk - which says kik-kik-kik.
Red-tailed hawk - which says keee-eeeek-aar (like a scream)
Cooper's hawk - which says cak-cak-cak-cak-cak
Do you have hawks in your neighborhood? Can you identify them by their call?
According to the Cornell website, many hawks are now stalking backyard birdfeeders and finding a meal of smaller birds to be much easier than hunting in the wild. I thought that was interesting.