Red-Tailed Hawk

As I pulled into my driveway this afternoon, I spotted a red-tailed hawk about 20 feet up in a cottonwood across the street.

I think this bird is a female, based on her size — female raptors are bigger than males. And she is big.

You can see how big this bird is when you realize that she is about 20 feet up in a cottonwood.

I’ve seen her several times in the neighborhood, usually being mobbed by the resident crows, ravens and magpies.

Which brings up the question — why is she in a suburban neighborhood? I mean, we are on the very western edge of the Denver metro area, with the mountains about half a mile away — she might cruise in once in a while to see what she could take, but the open foothills are better habitat for her. And we have a healthy resident population of woodland raptors like Coopers and sharp-shinned hawks that already patrol this territory.

Local Red-tailed hawk watching a boy walking home from school. She looks like she’s judging her chances, but non-nesting raptors don’t attack people — we’re too big to eat. Rabbits, prairie dogs, medium-sized birds are her usual prey.

She gave me no answers. I’ll just have to watch her like a hawk this winter, and see what happens.

Spring Has Sprung, the Flower Show has Started.

Two years of plentiful moisture and a gently-warming spring means that the wild flowers OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAare exploding. Right now, in the foothills west of the Denver-Boulder area, wild American plums are producing a blizzard of fragrant white blossoms. In some places, it is like walking down a corridor lined with flowers.

Plums, like apples, cherries and raspberries, are in the rose family. Clues include five OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAshowy petals, and many stamens (the hair-like structures in the center) coming off a central ring. And like roses, these wild plums have a noticeable fragrance. In the fall, if the moisture continues, these plants will be loaded with plums.

But today, just enjoy the sights and scents.