Thursday, February 23, 2006

Natural Beauty Confused

Photographed on May 26, 2006, this hawk (red-tailed?) is still resident on campus with its mate. Yesterday, in a fascinating display of beautiful confusion, I watched with several classmates as one of the hawks went from windshield to windshield, hoping to snatch a wiper blade "branch" for a new nest ('tis the season, apparently, in hawk-dom). The raptor was frustrated in its attempt to dislodge any of the wiper blades, and was harried constantly by the cries from the mate circling overhead.

The local hawk population is relatively new here (they moved into the seminary's territory only a few weeks prior to this picture), but they are growing in numbers, well-fed by the huge number of red squirrels in the area.
Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars,
and spreads its wings toward the south?”
(Job 39:26 NRSV)


  1. Scott Thompson (APTS Senior, and bird-watcher)11:44 PM


    The hawks on campus are actually Red-Shouldered Hawks.
    Here are some field marks that distinguish the Red-Shouldered hawk from the Red-Tailed Hawk:

    1. RS - red barred rusty underparts (well illustrated in your photo), RT - white belly
    2. RS - Red/rusty shoulders and wing-linings, RT - pale wing linings ..
    3. RS - numerous narrow alternating white and black bands on the tail, RT - reddish tail of course :-)

    Next time you happen to catch the birds in flight, be sure to watch for the banded tail, it's the best field mark.

    Thanks for sharing the great photo! I too, very much enjoy their presence on campus.


  2. Wow! Thanks, Scott, for the help. I recently came across a website collection of several hundred bird calls. I knew I was wrong with my initial guess when I listened to the call of the red-tailed hawk. It's a great call, but radically different from the red-shouldered hawk calls we hear around campus.

    After reading your comment, I returned to the website in question listened to the call of the red-shouldered hawk. I sometimes wonder if I am better able to identify a bird aurally rather than visually.