These are updates I’ve posted to our neighborhood list-serve.
March 28, 2016
Again this year, red-shouldered hawks (Buteo linneatus) are nesting in a tall beech tree near Bel Pre Elementary School. If you stand on the old bridge over Bel Pre Creek and look up the macadam path toward the school, you’re also looking toward the nest. You may hear the clear whistled calls of the parent birds.
This wooded streamside supplies what red-shouldered hawks need for shelter and food. Tall deciduous trees, an open understory, frogs, toads, crayfish, voles, small snakes, large insects; it’s all good!
On Sunday, while I was watching the hawk nest, I heard a barred owl (Strix varia) call once. These two apex predators hunt the same habitat—the hawk by day, the owl by night. We are fortunate to have this small bit of semi-natural woodland nearby.
April 16, 2016
Our red-shouldered hawks are on faithful duty at their nest near Bel Pre Elementary School. The nest is high in a beech tree so it’s hard to see the brooding bird unless she moves, but sometimes striped tail feathers stick out over the edge of the twiggy nest. Occasionally, downy feathers from the nest lining wave from outer twigs like tiny white flags.
The female hawk does most of the incubation. The smaller male brings food to her, and sometimes takes a turn sitting on the eggs while the female hunts. Whenever I witness that “changing of the guard,” I think how joyfully she must exchange her patient position for the glory of free flight.
Incubation takes about a month, so I’m estimating the eggs should hatch by the end of April. The female will tend the nestlings and the male will doubtless continue to be a good provider. I once saw a hawk plunge talons-down into the wetland pond near Rippling Brook, probably going for a frog. We’ll hope our male red-shouldered hawk can find plenty of frogs, mice, and even cicadas to feed his family this spring and summer.