Monday, July 23, 2012

Red-tailed Hawk in the Bird Bath

This morning a new youngster was dropped off by its parents. Yes, the bird bird sitting on the bird bath is a juvenile, a red-tailed hawk that has just recently left the nest. Unlike its parents, the tail of the juvenile is not a rufous red, but dark brown and somewhat banded. The overall coloring is also more mottled and streaky than the parents, providing camouflage as it sits waiting for its parents to return with food.

It is actually interesting how similar the coloring is between the juvenile Cooper’s hawks and this red-tailed hawk. The Cooper’s hawk kids are now spending their days with their parents. However, they drop by for a drink or a rest during the day.

But this new baby that has taken their place is at least 4 times the size. The large size of this juvenile red-tailed hawk suggests that it is a female; female birds of prey are typically larger than males. In the Los Angeles area this is the largest hawk species that we see. Typically, they are the large hawks sitting on lampposts along the freeway looking down into landscaped areas for rodents of all kinds: squirrels, rats, mice. They are rodent specialists.
When the red-tailed hawk took a bath this morning, she filled the whole bowl.

As she sat preening on the wires above the bird feeders, she had an audience of smaller birds and a squirrel watching her.

The birds interest her, but they are typically to small and fast to be considered prey. The fox squirrel, however, caught her eye.

And then the climbing rodent was concerned that it had. Her parents would have been proud that she focused in on the squirrel.

She must not have had breakfast, because she has steadily called for her parents for the last half hour. I just hope she is better at keeping hold of the food they bring than the young Cooper’s hawks were. Untidy hawklets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just found this blog (in signature on e-mail forwarded from third person): it's cool! Thanks for sharing. I love watching the birds that come to my yard, but geez, hawks on the bird bath? Neat!