Red-tailed hawk eating ground squirrel on artificial raptor perch on Mount Diablo. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
In case anyone asks, those artificial raptor perches we (the county) put up in the open space areas on Mount Diablo DO work.
I got up to North Lime Ridge early for a work party so I could look around and saw a red-tailed hawk on one of the perches. I stopped and watched.
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Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012
Under: Artificial Raptor Perches, Bats, Hawks, Red-tailed hawk | 2 Comments »
Green heron at Ellis Lake. Photo by Susan, Concord, CA
Today at Ellis Lake I was privileged to see a green heron, a hawk that I think is a red-shouldered hawk and a common merganser (male) duck. Just one. I know there’s probably not an answer to this question, but HOW can one duck get lost from the flock and end up in a tiny lake in the middle of Concord? He looked like he couldn’t decide whether to hang out with the mallards and try to blend in, or float around with the young seagull. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a merganser before, either.
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Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2012
Under: Ducks, Ellis Lake, Hawks | 3 Comments »
Turkey vulture (l.) and red-tailed hawk (r.) flying together. Photo by Greg Merritt, Vallejo, CA
I had to write to you to ask a question: Just thought it was curious and a little bizarre to see our red-tailed hawks soaring in formation with our local turkey vultures, with all of them getting along just fine!
In this picture I’m including above, it’s a red-tail soaring along with a vulture. I have several pictures of them soaring along together, and they were not fighting at all. If anything, they seemed to be enjoying the day, and each others company. It was quite weird.
I have several others with 5 or 6 vultures and a red-tail and a peregrine all flying in formation … and trust me, it’s the oddest thing ever … they obviously enjoy each other’s company … I think it’s just a little bit odd. (Alfred Hitchcock would be proud!) Is this common behavior?
Greg Merritt,Vallejo, California
Yes, hawks and vultures will often cruise around the skies together. They don’t compete with each other, or prey on each other. We probably see them flying around together a lot more often than we realize, since they can look so much alike when they are up there circling above us. /Gary
Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Under: Hawks, Turkey vultures | No Comments »
Swainson’s hawk vs. western kingbird. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
Small birds can get pretty aggressive when a bird of prey like this swainson’s hawk flies too close to their nesting area. Take this Western kingbird, for example. It is only 9 inches tall, compared to the 19+ inch tall swainson’s. And probably outweighed 15-1. But that doesn’t stop the little kingbird from telling the monster swainson’s where to go.
The power is in the heart. Bye-bye, swainson’s hawk. /Gary
Posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Under: Hawks, Western Kingbird | No Comments »
Scrub jay harassing a red-tailed hawk. Photo by Lissa Heaton Severe, Walnut Creek, CA
We have a red-tailed hawk nest in our neighborhood. Every year they come back to lay eggs. The babies are about 6 weeks old now, very cute! When I went out to take a picture of the mom at the top of the tree, I noticed a scrub jay flying around it, basically squawking and pestering it. Why would a scrub jay take on a hawk?!?
Lissa Heaton Severe, Walnut Creek, California
It is the nature of small birds — jays and mockingbirds in particular — to kick up a BIG noisy fuss whenever they encounter a bird of prey. They are Nature’s alarm system that lets all the other birds know when a predator is in the area. They will also do the same when they see a cat, and sometimes a fox squirrel. Fox squirrels are known to rob bird nests, eating eggs and sometimes small chicks.
Jays and mockers are smaller and faster than hawks, so unless they get too close, or careless, they can pretty much jump up and down and scream their heads off and do what they want without getting caught. The hawks know this and will often just ignore them. /Gary
Posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
Under: Hawks, Jays, Mockingbird | No Comments »
Swainson’s hawk in nest. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
I get many requests from readers wanting to know what hawk nests look like.
Check out the Swainson’s hawk nest above. Note mama hawk just peeking over the top of the nest while she’s incubating her eggs. Red-tailed hawks, similar in size to the Swainson’s, construct their nests out of an identical-size mix of sticks, leaves, grass, etc. /Gary
Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011
Under: Bird nests, Hawks, nesting, Red-tailed hawk | No Comments »
Blackbird chases Swainson’s hawk. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
“Hey! Get out of my airspace,” said the blackbird to the Swainson’s hawk.
Blackbirds are tough little characters, especially when they are protecting their nest areas. That protection appears to include the airspace directly over where the nest is located … as this Swainson’s hawk is finding out the hard way.
The hawk may be bigger than the blackbird, but it’s not as maneuverable. As far as the blackbird is concerned, there’s also a bit of safety in numbers. When one blackbird goes on the attack, the others come running … er … flying. The blackbirds, being MUCH smaller and lighter, can’t really do any damage to the hawk, but in nature, animals rarely come to actual physical blows. It’s all about posturing and image. Just ask any blackbird. /Gary
Posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011
Under: Birds, Blackbirds, Hawks | No Comments »
Jenny of Native Bird Connections with a snowy owl (Wild Birds Unlimited)
Native Bird Connections is a nonprofit organization that uses a collection of live, tame, nonreleasable eagles, hawks and owls to educate people of all ages about the wonders of nature. Last year they presented 584 programs that touched the lives of 17,792 people — including school children, scouts, senior living programs, after school enrichment programs, state and national park programs.
As Native Bird Connections supports our young people in their search for knowledge of the natural world around us, this organization also needs our financial support to help them survive these tough times.
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Posted on Friday, May 6th, 2011
Under: Bald Eagles, Birds, Golden eagles, Hawks, Owls, wild birds | No Comments »
Cooper’s hawk feeds on bird. Photo by Michelle Foy, Pleasanton, CA
I was sitting in my family room at home (near the foothills in Pleasanton) working on taxes this afternoon, when a saw a flurry of activity and what turned out to be a cloud of feathers out the window. I went out in the backyard to see what the commotion was, and I saw what I believe was a Cooper’s Hawk on top of the fence with his prey. I went back in and got my camera and proceeded to watch him de-feather and eviscerate what I fear may have been a baby bird. He didn’t seemed concerned that I was standing there and I was, for once, finally able to get the great backyard wildlife photo I was trying for. Eventually he flew off with what remained of his prey. It was a cool moment, although I still felt bad for the victim!
Michelle Foy, Pleasanton, California
We can always feel bad for the “victim,” but that’s how life works in the great outdoors. Everything has to eat something else in order to survive. The hawk eats the bird that eats the bugs that eat the grass … ad infinitum. And the turkey vultures and the dermestid beetles are always standing around in the wings, waiting to pick up the pieces. Life goes on. /Gary
Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Under: Cooper's hawk, Hawks | 4 Comments »
Flying red-tailed hawk. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
Red-tailed hawks are truly beautiful birds.
I think these photographs by Dave Harper of Oakley, Calif., speak for themselves. /Gary
Red-tailed hawk perched on fence. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
Posted on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Under: Hawks, Red-tailed hawk | 1 Comment »