This week marks the return to a more “conventional” WIRR.


For well over a year, we’ve been lucky enough to have a nesting pair of hawks living in the cottonwood tree two houses over from ours.  It’s pretty thrilling to be kicking back on the porch with a beer in your hand, and see a hawk go screaming overhead.


We identified the hawk last year as a Swainson’s Hawk. Swainsons Hawk

We determined this because of the white underside.  I got a little suspicious when I thought we saw the hawk over the winter- Swainson’s Hawks migrate to South America.  But I only saw it once, and I wasn’t sure if it was our hawk.  And then there was the cry, which sounded just like a Red-tailed Hawk.  (You’d recognize the sound– all Hollywood movies use this sound for whatever eagle/hawk/falcon happens to fly by.  No, eagles do not sound like that in real life.)  But Sibley’s describes the cry of the Swainson’s Hawk as “similar to a red-tail.”


So last Monday I was working at home.  Or, to be correct, trying to work at home.  It was difficult, as the hawk was just sitting on the house behind us, continuously squawking away.  I finally gave up, got out the binoculars, and looked straight at the dark-colored face.


I pulled out Sibley’s, turned to the page for the Swainson’s and looked at a white face.


I brought the binoculars back up to watch the bird.  The dark-faced bird looked back at me.  Hmmmm….  By the time I got my camera ready the hawk was circling the yard.  I fired off a series of shots, then went back inside to see what I got.  


Nineteen blurry pictures, and one fairly sharp photo of a hawk with dark patches on the front of the wing, a dark-colored face, and, oh yes, a red tail.


Dorinna decided that our Red-Tailed Hawk neighbor needed a name.  She named it “Swainson.”


WIRR 2008 July2

Technical Data:  Canon Digital Rebel XTi; EF 100-300 f/4.5-5.6 USM at 300 mm; f/8 at 1/2500; ISO 800.

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