Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk Nest

Every year a pair of Red-tailed Hawks nest somewhere on our property or very close by. In the good old days, they nested in a tree at the edge of our lower pasture. The nest was huge and nestled against the trunk. We were able to watch the nestlings being fed, tromping around the branches after they were older screaming for food, and finally, daring to make that leap into the air and fly. But the top of the tree broke off in one of our major wind storms, taking the nest with it. Since then, we've had a tough time finding where the pair builds their nursery. It seems to be in a different place every year, judging from the sounds of begging youngsters, but only a few years have we actually found the nest's location.

I had given up finding it this year and strolled down toward Agency Creek today just to see what birds were about and what flowers were blooming. (And to take a break from digging out the defunct herb bed in preparation for turning it into a raspberry row.)

The lower pasture was yellow with buttercups. Blooming amidst the buttercups were jillions of wild strawberries. (Obviously, horses don't like buttercups or strawberries.)

Our best view of Spirit Mountain is from that lower field.

The Bleeding Hearts (or Dutchman's Breeches as I've always called them) were in full bloom in the woods. Agency Creek was lovely in the afternoon sun. (Yes, sun! All day! And 70 degrees!)

As I approached the big mossy log at the edge of the creek I heard Red-tailed Hawk begging cries. They sounded very close. I scanned the firs on the other side of the creek but could see nothing. But then something at almost the very top of a very tall fir moved. An adult Red-tail took off. I trained my binoculars on the place the hawk had been and found the nest!! The hawks must be feeding offspring now as they returned again and again. I watched an adult apparently ripping something apart, presumably prey to stuff down a hungry nestling's throat although I could see no nestlings, looking up at the bottom of the nest as I was.

Pictured is the nest tree on the right of the far left photo. The large fir to the left of the nest tree is our boundary line across the creek so the nest tree is just off our property. In the photo on the far right is the nest, zoomed up almost as far as my camera will zoom. The fuzzy middle photo has, if you look closely, an adult hawk by the side of the nest, with my camera maxed out on zoomability. Perhaps you can at least pick out the hawk's head.

There were many birds besides Red-tailed Hawks out enjoying themselves on this sunny day in the woods, from Red-breasted Sapsuckers to various Warblers, Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Chickadees and more. But finding the nest was an exciting highlight in a lovely, highly lit day.

Of course, the raspberry bed is still unfinished. It will have to wait for another day.

No comments:

Post a Comment