My husband and I were working the backyard this morning, cleaning up the garden after a long, hard winter. The hacking, digging and trimming were beginning to pay off when both of us heard the unmistakable “Kreeee!” of a red-tailed hawk.
We’ve had a red-tailed hanging around the neighborhood for the last few winters https://amylaw.blog/2018/12/13/red-tailed-hawk/, which I’ve always thought was kinda odd — they are perch hunters of open spaces. But for the past five years or so, we’ve had an overabundance of cotton-tailed rabbits, a favorite prey item of red-taileds. And just this week we found a bunny in the street that had been ripped up by some sort of hawk.
But when my husband and I looked up to spot see the red-tailed, we saw not one, but two hawks careening through the trees. By the time I had grabbed my camera (always withing handy reach) and bolted out the front door, I could only see one of the hawks flying in tight circles above the house.
After snapping a few pics, the hawk began to fly out of range. I lowered my camera and my husband pointed out the other hawk, huddled in a tree across the street.
At first glance, this looked like another red-tailed hawk — speckled belly, and rusty tail feathers. But something about the eyes made me question that identification.
She didn’t like me looking at her (in my defense, I was 20 feet below her), and so she took off. And instantly, I knew she was a Swainson’s hawk.
Not having seen the original altercation, I have no idea what set off the spat between these two birds. It might have been food — Swainson’s also eat rabbits. But even more, they eat ground squirrels, and insects. Or the Swainson’s might have gotten too close to the Red-tailed’s nest.
Once she took flight, she lost no time in heading back to the open spaces she felt most comfortable in.
It will be interesting to see if she stays in the neighborhood. I’ll have to keep an eye out her.