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Still in the news: hawks...

Yeah, I'm sure y'all will get tired of the hawk-spamming eventually. But I'm still captivated; so sue me.


This post actually compresses several days' worth of hawk-stalking, because the hawks, they do not always cooperate...

Case in point, last Tuesday, the 28th. I went out looking for hawks in the evening, and while walking up towards Oxford St., actually saw one go flying away north ahead of me, out of view behind a big building. Very possibly, that was the same adult whom I managed to spot on the roof of Pierce Hall (which is either part of biochem or part of the Law School, I'm not sure which). The light was LOUSY. Clear and sunny, but the sun was going down and the hawk was very backlit. Eventually, she took off and flew across the street, into the trees in front of the MCZ, where I followed her...



Eventually she took off from the pine tree, and landed on a light-post for a while, affording this fairly good pic:


There were a few more hops to various roofs, none of them resulting in good pictures, before she flew out of sight and I called it a day. On the way back down to the T station, I heard one of the juveniles crying, and followed the sound nearly to where it was perched on Memorial Church, but was only in time to see it fly away ahead of me.

The next day was rainy. The following day, I went out around lunchtime for a walk around (bad idea; ghastly humidity), and the hawks were coy. Witness, the only pic I got of one:


You could go to the Flickr page and look at it full-size, but believe me, it isn't that rewarding. I was proud of myself for having spotted the hawk in flight from such a distance, and for getting the shot at all. For comparison's sake (it didn't occur to me at the time to take a non-zoomed shot), here is approximately the above view from just about where I was standing to take the above shot at 40x zoom:

Picture 1

(The only difference is that instead of standing in the middle of the busy street, I was standing on the sidewalk off-screen to the right.)

On Friday, however: jackpot! Was sitting at my desk when I heard one of the juveniles crying. Grabbed camera and rushed outside. Apparently just missed the two juveniles sitting on a nearby railing. At that point, one was quite hidden in the crown of the big locust tree. After Deborah and I stood there for a few moments, though, another juvenile flew over and landed on the balustrade over one of the Barker Center doors:



He sat there for a few minutes, then took off for the roof of Dana Palmer house, affording this amusing attempt to take a shot of him taking off again:


He then landed on the metal-bar chimney-support of Warren House for a few seconds:


As the light quality and sky shows, we were in for some rain. It was just starting to patter as I took this. Within a half-hour it was absolutely teeming.

I also finally remembered that my camera has a video function! So I was able to get some footage of the juvenile on Friday:

The inane commentary at the beginning is courtesy of Deborah and I. *rolls eyes*

The sharp "chip-chip" noises are the local robins, protesting the hawks' presence. The second juvenile hawk is up in the top of that big locust tree between Barker and Dana Palmer. The "kreeeeee-kree-kree" sound that you hear periodically is that hawk (that's a cry asking the parents to come feed them; which the parents won't do at this point, as they're supposed to be learning to hunt for themselves). At about 1:24, you can see this one react to its sibling taking off and flying over the roof of Barker. Stick around to the end and you'll see this hawk take off.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Awesome. Man, those are birds with some serious 'tude!
Aug. 3rd, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
They're definitely captivating to me because they're so full of personality. When you look at them and they're looking around, and looking at you, there's a lot of "there" there, if you know what I mean.

It's also interesting because when you go and read around on redtail hawks, a lot of places will tell you that although they're the most common raptor in North America, they're shy and not easy to spot. ... Yeah. I think the lesson here is that these urban raptors, as part of their adaptation, have given up on the "shy" part. They just don't seem particularly bothered by people, nor reluctant to land when there are people around.
Aug. 3rd, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
Not easy to spot? Really? I dunno, driving down any given highway in the northeast usually does it for me. Of course I'm in a moving vehicle then, which makes a difference.

When I went to Alaska, one of the places we visited did bald eagle rehab, and let me tell you, when one of them looked at you you could tell they were thinking "...could I eat her? I'll bet I could eat her."
Aug. 4th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Are you sure those are always hawks along the highway, or are they vultures? I spot the latter all the time, but hawks, not so often.

I think the places commenting on their rarity and shyness mostly mean "around people". I guess normal, non-urban redtails rarely stick around when people are involved. Also, I can attest that on foot, it's hard to "track" hawks. Yeah, sometimes you get lucky and spot them aloft, but good luck following them. They're really hard to spot perched in trees, unless you either saw them fly into the tree, or else they're making noise and helping you triangulate on them.

While the adults do make their signature cry every so often, they don't vocalize as much as the juveniles do. Thank goodness for the latter, because most of the hawk-spotting I've done so far has been through hearing them and then going out to find them.

(Today was an exception, as late in the afternoon, Deborah went out on an errand, turned the corner, and came across one of the adults sitting right out on a lightpost. So she called me back at the office to let me know, and I got some good pics of a mockingbird harassing the hawk. But had the adult been sitting quietly in a tree, I doubt anyone would have noticed her.)
Aug. 10th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
I've seen a lot of hawks over the years, though now that I think about it I think they may be somewhat more common on the Thruway than the Pike--more farmland.

Out in Washington I used to see kestrels hovering over the median on the highway all of the time. That was pretty cool.
Aug. 3rd, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
The hawk stalking is really neat! It's amazing to me that they can adapt to live in such urban environments.

I need to dig up the photo I took of the hawk sitting on the fence behind my apartment when I lived in Torrance (Loa Angeles.) I could walk right up to it. I think a friend said it might be a juvenile Cooper's hawk.

Last year a hawk flew over me, fairly close, and then did that standard "hawk scream" you hear in the movies. That was really neat.
Aug. 4th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Well, one thing's for sure -- there is PLENTY of prey for them. Though I gather they have adapted a bit, and they are taking birds as well as rats and squirrels, which I guess redtails don't normally do? Or something? But they are certainly taking pigeons, and someone saw one with a sparrow it had gotten. So with the variety of prey, it's no wonder.

Also granted -- for an urban college campus, what Harvard features is a bunch of nice buildings to perch on from which the hawks can watch broad expanses of open but tree-shaded lawns. The Yard is a series of really big green spaces surrounded by the buildings. I'm guessing that's a good mix for the hawks, because that's room to really swoop down on the rats/squirrels/pigeons/sparrows/robins/what-have-you. And Cambridge Common, which is even bigger, is right next door. It actually makes me wonder whether there's more than one hawk pair settled around here, or what.

Ooo, find that photo! :)
Aug. 3rd, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
OMG! Best hawk icon EVER.

And yay for photos and film. I love that shot of him from the back, the feathers look magnificent.

Aug. 4th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
That set of expressions from that one day is definitely my favorite set so far. :)

I thought of you when I got a look at the lovely feathers in that one shot. ;-)
Aug. 4th, 2009 12:41 am (UTC)
It's really delightful and very very hawk. And hee! I do tend to go for the photos that show those feathered patterns, and that one is really amazing. *hugs*
Aug. 4th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
Nah, it's not spamming when the photos are so much fun! Thank you.
Aug. 4th, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
Not at all tired of the hawk-stalking. These are beautiful, and I loved the video.
Aug. 4th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
I'm still captivated by your hawk photos. Keep posting.
Aug. 4th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
I LOVE THESE POSTS. So does my mom, to whom I've shown them all. We really enjoyed the robin pics as well as the hawks - I've never seen such detail on a robin before.

All the birds are adorable, and the "birditude" comes through loud and clear in every pic for me. Of course, having been a parrot's human for 15 years now, I do have more insight into bird-think than I once did. :D

Edited at 2009-08-05 05:20 am (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! Just beautiful! You keep right on Hawk stalking - we'll stay with you to the end!!! Loving it! And hey! I never got that blasted confirmation email from LJ, but it looks like they admit I exist anyway! Yay! Happy commenting! I see red tails all the time where I live, but we are on a lake, so there is plenty of environment and food for them here. The best hawk sighting I EVER had was driving down the road one day in the middle of a neighborhood in the middle of the rather large city where we live, and seeing on the ground, standing over a just nabbed rabbit, calmly looking at me! I came to a halt and backed up level with him - her? Probably her. She was only four feet away and didn't even flinch when I rolled down my window. We communed for awhile, and then I went on my way. And dammit, no, I did not have a camera on me - oh lost opportunity.
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
I spoke too soon - won't let me comment under my LJ account - but will let me comment anonymously...WTF? Trying again on the confirmation email. It's Gaycelt posting here...
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )