Hawks on walks

We seem to be having a predatory bird extravaganza here at NSC this week.  But while the owls in question were art owls, seen only on the comic page, today we had a close encounter with a real raptor.

I was on my way back from a walk with the dog Toby, only one block from home.  I was listening to my favorite Warren Zevon song (“Searching for a Heart”, Zevon fans) and thinking about page 2 of Kekionga #2, when Toby alerted to something across the street.  He didn’t go into a full point, which he does do sometimes, but he stiffened and indicated a direction with his nose and tail.

I’ve come to trust Toby’s instincts; he’s pointed deer and pheasant for me, and something I’m 90% sure was a wild turkey, as well as many other types of birds, as well as beetles, dragonflies and plastic bags. And he was right on target again this time.  Across the street, in the tree lawn, by the base of the phone pole was a Red Shouldered Hawk. 

I’m pretty sure of the identification, and I’m thrilled, because this makes 4 species of raptor that I’ve seen within a block of the house.   In the yard, I’ve seen the small grey backed Sharpshinned Hawk several times and Sam, our neighborhood Redtail.  (And if you’ve never seen a full sized Redtail perched your backyard gate you are missing a vaguely terrifying wildlife moment.)  And I’ve seen Kestrels around the neighborhood several times.

The new hawk, who was picking at a bit of trash, looked like this.



Bigger and browner than the Sharpie, without the grey back and the markings on the face, but smaller than a Redtail and lacking the distinctive tail markings.  The plain reddish brown head, and the barred tail …It was a Red Shouldered, all right.

We sat down to watch her (him).  The hawk was completely calm, not afraid of Toby at all, and Toby, in turn, was perfectly good; he didn’t make a sound, not the tiniest “boof”.  This went on for several minutes until a contractor’s work truck went by and the hawk flew up into a tree. 

We crossed the street then and stood under the tree to take a closer look.  We couldn’t find what the hawk had been eating; he (or she) must have finished it off.  Then the hawk watched us and we watched the hawk until everyone had enough.

Then, presumably, we both went home. 

Good boy, Toby, and thank you for finding me a hawk. 


Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 2:57 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Now, if Toby could point out a (i)trained(/i) hawk, one ready to fly from a gauntleted hand and catch you a squirrel for your supper (or perhaps even go through the BK drive-thru), he would be a VERY good dog!

  2. YAY!

    While driving down the freeway last week, I saw a Redtail (at least, I assume it was; they are the most common here) hovering over the ditch, obviously looking at a meal. He looked as if he was ready for the dive and kill, but I didn’t get to see that, as I was going 70+ mph.

  3. Wolfie, I would love to have a trained hawk. It’s an awful lot of work to train one, though, and even harder to get it housebroken. I’m not sure Mr. Shark would like me to convert part of the garage into a mews.

    Alan, I never knew that a Redtail could hover. The only raptors I’ve ever seen hovering were kestrels, which are hardly the same thing, since they are about the size of a robin. But I’m sure if you saw a Redtail that it was a Redtail. They’re great critters.

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