Thursday, January 24, 2008

Double Raptor Sighting

It was a good day for raptor sightings here on the twelve acres. We were treated to a long-lasting Bald Eagle sighting first, at about 4:30 p.m. I had some pork sauteing on the stove and I glanced out the kitchen window to see what was going on out by the woods (as I am wont to do) and an enormous bird with long wing beats was just clearing the edge of the woods. It flapped a few times then glided, then flapped again. As it came closer the white tail and head stood out clear as day.

"Derek! Derek!" I called in the tone I use to indicate that a really cool bird is in view. He came running and slid on his stocking feet right up to the glass door to see what I was so frantically announcing. When he saw what it was he ran to the opposite side of the house to catch it heading north toward the lake shore. He got to watch it until it became a small dot in the distance. Cool.

The next sighting was just as cool--the mated pair of Red-Tailed Hawks that share the trees with us. At about 5:30 p.m. Derek and I were headed out to the orchard to get some apple wood for a friend, and as usual the Durango spooked up a big raptor from the windbreak. I was expecting to see our Cooper's Hawk but the tail was too short and the wings were different. Then I caught a flash of that famous red tail and knew who it was instantly. The really cool part was that it flew up to the gigantic willow tree near the end of the windbreak where its mate sat waiting on the highest branch. As it flew up to land, it reached out its right foot and seemed to affectionately or playfully grasp the other's right foot. It was almost a familiar gesture. Do raptors show affection? If so, I got to witness such a special moment between two fantastic birds of prey! How awesome!

Of course I didn't have my camera at hand for either sighting, which is usually the case. Damn! When the weather warms up I am going to take my camera and binocs and go sit in the trees and bird watch. We have so many bird species here that it's ridiculous that I still haven't dedicated the better part of one day to just watching birds. I'm going to do it, and that's final.

After getting the apple wood, we drove toward home and again the first bird took to the air and glided directly overhead, leading us down the road. I nearly drove off the road as we watched the hawk glancing at us side to side as if it was sizing us up in an irritated fashion. I suppose it was tired of being disturbed and wanted us to quit bothering them as they looked for dinner. How cool to watch the hawk...watching us.

We've had Red-Tails on our property ever since I can remember. We don't get to see them as often in the winter as we do in the warmer months, so it was a real treat to see them today. And it was a bonus to see them interacting in such an intimate way. I emailed the Black Swamp Bird Observatory to report the Bald Eagle sighting this evening. What a great raptor day!


  1. Amy, all your other raptors are down here in Tucson. I see them on the phone poles every time I go to the store! We also saw a slew of them at the Las Cienegas NCA which I just discovered is only 20 minutes away from my house! We saw a Harland's hawk there Saturday night! Glad you got to see those two!

  2. Please say hello to my Ruby-Throated hummingbirds as well as my raptors down there. I hope they're enjoying their winter vacation!

  3. Guess what? We don't have Ruby-throats here! Instead, we get the western version called Black-chinned hummingbirds and I beleive both species migrate to central America for the winter. Let me know when your ruby throats return. They used to retun to Maine about the second week of April when I lived there. I have no idea when Black-chins will return here. I'll keep you posted!


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