Friday, October 1, 2010

Red-Tailed Hawk : an amazing inhabitant of our forests

Its a B-52! No, it's a huge bird! The shadow of a large winged creature in the evening made this neighborhood in The Woodlands Texas, in the East Texas forest system, stand up and pay attention. The bird swooped down to about eight feet off the ground, so I ducked. What in the world was going on? Our neighborhood had been attacked by this squirrel hunter? It came in for a landing, but the question is, was it looking for a squirrel or the pet rabbit across the street? Maybe my little Toy Terrier?
In flight to reach the position he seeks in a tree
    So majestic, so swift, so powerful! This bird of prey is a natural inhabitant of our forest. He chases a Grey Squirrel up a a tree by going to a limb below the squirrel. The squirrel escapes by going up the tree, seeking refuge from this feared enemy. That is exactly what this bird wants the squirrel to do. On a large Pine Tree, the squirrel moves up and so does the hawk. This happens repeatedly until the squirrel has no place to go. Then this hunter goes in for a swift capture in his talons.
About 60-70 feet high overlooking his domain
The Red-Tailed Hawk is a beautiful bird and a welcome resident of the forest. He is welcome here as well, on a residential street of The Woodlands. Yes, he casts a large shadow with his 3.5-4.5 foot wingspan. Just think! His wings stretch out the height of a human. He lives for 20+ years, so he is our neighbor and friend for much of our life if we stay here.
Mated Red-Tailed Hawk adults

On this day, we saw no prey being taken, but there were suddenly two birds i the tree. I have reason to believe they have been nesting nearby in a tall Pine.  I particularly like their hunting ability of rats and mice. We need them as well as Coyotes and Owls to control the tree rat population here. They will also feed on rabbits and any small creature. They are not likely to be hunting cats or dogs. If you see one close to you, you are quite lucky. One landed on our fence once. The photo turned out poor so I never show it. I am very thankful on this day for this observation of such a beautiful creature. I wish I could have given you better photos, but this will have to do for now.

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