Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cardinal Keeps Watchful Eye on Pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks

Why is this male northern cardinal craning his neck and looking upward? After all, this is not a familiar pose for the bright red bird.
It was a clear, crisp morning in the Colvin Run Habitat. Temperature in the teens; not a cloud in the sky. Snow had fallen the previous day, so there was a white dusting of snow remaining on the trees. But the real beauty, not to mention the object of the cardinal’s attention, was a pair of red-shouldered hawks in the side oaks.
After a minute one flew away. So in the third photo you can see (unfortunately through the trees) the classic red-shouldered of the under wing. The remaining hawk then turned and posed for the last photo.
I am hoping that they represent a pair of mating hawks that will stay the season, as opposed to a pair migrating north. The Smithsonian’s Birds of North America observes that red-shouldered hawks “will use the same territory for years, and even succeeding generations may return to the same territory. The longest recorded use of the same territory is forty-five years.” So a mating pair in the Habitat most likely has been here a while and will be here for some time to come.

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