Saturday, July 11, 2009

Backyard Surprise

When we got home from a motorcycle ride this evening, we were greeted by the sound of several seriously distraught robins chirping in the yard. I've heard these chirps before and usually when I walk out in the yard to investigate the source of the distress, invariably a Cooper's Hawk will fly out of one of the evergreen trees. That's exactly what I was expecting tonight, but no Coop flew out from anywhere. When I turned to walk back to the house, I spotted what was making those robins so upset, right there on top of my martin pole!
Holy Crap! How cool is that?!?

The robins stayed close, but none of them were brave enough to tangle with a hawk this size. I was amazed the hawk just sat there while I had enough time to go and get Mr. Johnson and my camera, and even crept up closer to it for more pictures.

Finally the hawk flew down into the yard near one of the many streaked gopher holes we have out there. Again, I was able to use some evergreens as cover to creep closer for another picture. Needless to say, the gophers were nowhere to be seen, but the hawk stood there long enough for me to get one more picture. Don't you just love those fluffy feather pantaloons?
I know that Red-Tailed Hawks are one of our most common raptors, but I never get tired of seeing them. But seeing one of them--up close and in my own backyard--is one of those amazing and wondrous events that I will never forget!

Here's a short movie too. I wanted you to be able to hear all the robins chirping in the background. (sorry it's a little shaky......I was pretty excited!)


Gaelyn said...

Wow, that is soooo cool. I'll bet the Robins were upset. Love the fuzzy pantaloons.

Mary C said...

Wow! Ruthie, that was really quite a surprise. At least it seems to be typical of "juvie" raptors to visit backyards. Those puffy pantaloons are quite interesting. Do you think this hawk is a first year or second year? Recently fledged hawks wouldn't be that big yet, would they? How funny that he/she didn't have any interest in any of the birds. Gosh, I hope there weren't any purple martins in those houses.

KGMom said...

I love the video evidence of upset robins. They are sure chirping away.

Anonymous said...

Look at Mr. Fancy Pants!

Thanks for this. I'll be on the lookout here from now one. He looks HUGE!

If he hung around my yard awhile, I might even get to eat some of my figs this year.

Jayne said...

Like you Ruthie, I never tire of the excitement of seeing them land in the yard. I know a mourning dove might be sacrificed, but it's amazing to watch a hawk, well... being a hawk! Great images!

Mama Pea said...

Wow! Up close and personal!

Every now and then (not too often thankfully) we hear a terrible cacophony from the poultry yard and run out to see a hawk in a tree and nary a chicken in sight. (They either go into their house or scrunch down in the heavy stand of trees in their yard.)

As Mary C said, I also wonder why your hawk didn't show any more interest in the robins right there.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Lucky you Ruthie!!! What a cool thing to see. That hawk looks enormous sitting atop your martin houses.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You are right Ruthie, amazing and wonderous.

Anonymous said...

Oh listen to those robins, what a ruckas. The hawk is so beautiful,in full plumage.


Susan Gets Native said...

*You know raptors get me excited!*

RuthieJ said...

Hi Gaelyn,
I can always tell when there's a hawk in the yard by how the chirping sounds, but usually it's the bluejays and grackles who sound the alarm.

Hi Mary C,
According to my big Sibley field guide, looks like it could have been a 1st year juvenile. I've never seen a red-tailed hawk take a bird in my yard, but there's an over abundance of assorted small rodents that they're more than welcome to!
P.S. No martins this year, so no worries there at least.

Hi Donna,
The hawk finally flew over to the neighbor's yard and I could still hear the robins chirping at the hawk over there!

LOL Mary Lee, Mr. Fancy Pants is right! I always see them perched far away on utility poles, so I was amazed to see how HUGE this bird was right in my backyard.

Hi Jayne,
I found a couple different piles of feathers yesterday when mowing the lawn, but I think Cooper's Hawk is a regular visitor to the backyard too. There are always a few extra MODOs and HOSPs around that can be used to feed a growing hawk family!

Hi Mama Pea,
If I had chickens in the backyard, you can bet I would not be quite so fascinated with seeing this big hawk hanging around!
I think it's interesting though how the other birds react when the "alarm" chirps are given by robins or bluejays for in incoming hawk.

Thanks Lynne, that hawk was so huge! I was just happy it sat for such a long time that I could get pictures.

Thanks Lisa. :-)

Thanks Mom. I'm sure you've heard robins chirping like this for a hawk in your backyard too, haven't you?

Hi Susan,
I thought of you when I saw this hawk and that's exactly the reaction I was hoping for when you read this post! What do you think.....1st year juvenile?

danielle said...

Those are some great shots! I've been noticing the hawks on the light poles on the highways, but since I'm usually driving, I can't take a picture. :-)

Red said...

What a gorgeous raptor! Especially his 'pantaloons' :) Maybe he'll clear out some of your rodents. Looks like it was unsuccessful on that landing, but maybe one evening it'll be there when they are out.

troutbirder said...

Amazing. I've never seen anything like it.

Windyridge said...

Fantastic pictures!

dAwN said...

Hee hee..
I love that photo with the pantaloons! i can see why u wanted to take the video..other birdies not to happy with that coopers hanging out!

NCmountainwoman said...

Wow! I'm excited just looking at the photos and video. Absolutely amazing.

Stephen said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us your sighting of this beautiful Hawk.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Danielle,
I know what you mean....I see them pretty regularly from the car or motorcycle too, so it was really neat to have one in the yard that was so close and cooperative for photos!

Hi Red,
I suppose his cover was blown with all those robins and their chirping too. They just seem to fly so much slower than the Cooper's or Sharp-Shinned Hawks, but they must catch enough critters to survive.

Hi Troutbirder, me either!

Thanks Windyridge. I was happy we got home at just the right time.

Thanks Dawn. I was surprised to see those fluffy pantaloons too. You'd never notice them when they're flying or sitting on a pole.

Thanks Carolyn, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

You're welcome Stephen--glad you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Kim said...

So cool!! I love Red-tailed Hawks and would be thrilled to have one in my yard. It looks like an adult to me w/ the streaked chest??

I have also noticed the Red-tailed Hawks will normally leave the birds alone as they prefer to dine on 4 legged creatures unless desperate. ;o)

Birds do freak out when they see them though. Love the shot with the robin the in the tree. Will have to check out the video when I am at home as I can't see video from work because they block it. grrrrrrr.

Marsha said...

You got some nice photos of the hawk but my favorite is the one showing his pantaloons ;) We have them frequently here and I can always tell they are in the area by the ruckus crows make. They pester hawks to no end.