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.
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.”
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.