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Red-Tailed Hawk
February 08, 2016


Sunset is now past 6:00 PM here in Southwest Michigan.

Now if we could only see more of the sunshine, that would make me happy.

In typical winters, much of the Big Lakes (for me, Lake Michigan), have frozen over.

This minimizes Lake Effect clouds.

However, this is no ordinary winter and lake effect clouds are almost a daily thing still.

In normal winters we will have more sunshine by now.

A lot more sunshine.

Not this winter, and this is becoming a challenge for me, as I do suffer from 'Seasonal Affect Disorder' (SAD).

We have a little more than 28 inches of snow for the season.

If all the rain we have had this winter were snow, we would be totally buried.

The 1.55 inches of rain last week Would amount to 20 inches of snow, or something like that.

Oh well, February thunderstorms were pretty cool.

We have a little more than 28 inches of snow for the season.

If all the rain we have had this winter were snow, we would be totally buried.

The 1.55 inches of rain last week Would amount to 20 inches of snow, or something like that.

Oh well, February thunderstorms were pretty cool.

If you haven't done so yet, be sure to register for the Great Backyard Bird Count

Counts run from February 12 thru the 15th.

Make one count, or several counts.

You are helping science and the health off our birds.

This week's topic, Red-tailed hawks.


There are several species of hawks.

You may have your favorite or regional hawks, but only one species that graces most of North America.

That would be the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).

(My apologies for not having more pictures of this bird, they are never close when i have mu camera.)

Red-tailed hawks are most often seen soaring high above, or perched on utility poles and bare tree branches looking for food.

This magnificent bird can reach 24 inches (almost 2/3 m) in length.

Females that is, the male is almost one third smaller.

They can weigh up to 4 pounds (1.7 k.), and have a wing span of 4 feet (1.3 m)

This species of hawk has a large, stocky body, with a brown and white breast, and a rust colored tail.

Fledglings and Immature Red-tails are a dull color, more streaked, and lack the rusty tail.

Nests are usually built in a large tree near the edge of the woods, often near a body of water.

Like all birds, they are territorial and chase other Red-tails and other birds that may be a threat to their food source.

A side note:

Because Cooper's and Sharp-shinned hawks prey mostly on birds, they aren't considered a big threat.

Owls are nocturnal predators and aren't considered a real threat unless it comes to pillaging a nest.

We also have a pair of Great-horned owls that live in the same territory.

Although they mostly eat mammals, like rats, mice, small rabbits, gophers, young cats, squirrels, muskrats, and even skunks that may venture out in the day.

They will also prey on snakes, lizards, toads, and large insects.

I have seen hawks fly over with a snake gripped in its strong talons.

It is a sight to behold when a parents flies over and drops half of a rat to a fledgling.

The young bird will leave its perch, drop to the ground and pick up the fresh meal.

Birds that are every bit as big as its parent, yet helpless to hunt, will sit there and scream and cry for a parent.

I have not seen this, but these hawks will sometimes work in tandem when hunting down rabbits or a squirrel.

Large to medium sized birds are also on the menu.

Ducks, crows, starlings, woodpeckers, small owls, robins, and whatever fits the bill that day.

Birds however, are not the first choice and this may be one of the reasons I adore this bird.

Roadkill is also a popular meal, as is with most birds of prey and scavengers.

Many times I have seen a flattened hawk that didn't escape on coming traffic.

While Red-tailed hawks do migrate, we are blessed to have a resident pair that resides here year round.

Even in the coldest months of winter.

It is during the winter that we witness the pair in tandem.

Whether perched, or soaring, the pair are always together.

Indeed, this is the time of year where the keen eye may spot a Red-Tailed hawk mating dance.

While these birds mate for life, every year they perform this ritual.

Both birds will soar high into the sky.

Then, in tight circles they begin to drop to earth spinning closer and closer.

I have seen this a few times.

If you are really blessed, you may witness then pair locking talons as they spin and drop rapidly.

Just when you think they are going to crash, they release and soar up to dance once again.

Once in my lifetime I had the awesome pleasure to witness the talon locking.

A Wow Moment.

A thank you Lord for the blessing.

When out and about, keep your eyes to the sky, you may witness one of Nature's more spectacular romances.

To learn more on Red-Tailed Hawks

click on this link.

Well <>, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God bless.

Love is always bestowed as a gift
Freely, willingly and without expectation.
We don't love to be loved;
We love to love.

Leo Buscaglia

Again with a Leo Buscaglia quote.

He was known as Mr. Hug, always teaching the importance of love.

From the word of God.

"And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love".

1 Corinthians 13:13

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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