Ducks return, Hawks and Heron hunt

Five Mallards showed up during this period. They appear to be a family group since there are both males and females present and all are in fresh brown plumage (adult males would be showing at least some green on the head, if not a completely green head at this time). Did Mallards once again secretly nest back amongst the willows on the far side of the Wetlands, unseen until the middle of July (see Mallards, June 30, 2008)? My notes indicate that there were two adult females in the Wetlands on July 5 of this year. However, those two birds flew off just as I spotted them on the far side of the pond.

Great Blue Heron in the Wetlands

I watched the resident Great Blue Heron capture and devour a large Bullfrog on 19 July. The pickings should be getting easier and easier for the heron and other creatures that prey on the fish, frogs, and insects of the Wetlands as the water level continues to drop, concentrating the prey into smaller and smaller areas.

Two immature plumaged, female Cooper’s Hawks were seen soaring over Catch the Wind on the morning of 28 July. These two hawks are no doubt the product of the pair of Cooper’s Hawks that I’d seen and heard for the past several months in the pines north of Catch the Wind. It’s good to see that they were successful in raising at least two offspring.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Not surprisingly, a Red-shouldered Hawk comes into the Wetlands daily to perch-hunt for frogs, rats, and anything else it can pounce on. During midday, it’s often perched hidden among the willows, waiting patiently for a frog or rodent to make a careless move. In the evening it usually settles on a prominent snag near the center of the Wetlands.

While stretching its right wing, the ever vigilant Red-shouldered Hawk in the photo here glares over its left “shoulder” to investigate something moving about in the trees. The reddish-brown marking visible at the bend in the right wing of this bird is what gives the species its name.

For a glimpse into the daily life of the Red-shouldered Hawks that nested in Northgate Park this summer check out this Photo Journal by local photographer Bill Majoros. Northgate Park is just south of the Museum. The hawks that nested there may or may not be the same hawks that we see at the Museum. I’m betting that they are, although there is no real way, at this time, of knowing for sure without somehow marking the birds.

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