Red Tails Overhead

Top Photo: Immature plumaged red-tailed hawk soars over museum.

If you’ve visited the museum in the past several months you’re probably aware of the red-shouldered hawks that have nested here this season, like just about every other year since I’ve been here. Their loud vocalizations as they soar above the outdoor loop make them quite noticeable to even casual observers.

Red-shouldered hawk over wetlands.

You may not have known, however, about the red-tailed hawks that nested alongside the parking lot on the south side of the museum property. Noticeably larger than their red-shouldered relatives, but they’re not as vocal.

Immature red-tailed hawk soaring.

They’re also birds of more open spaces so it’s not likely you’ll see one perched in the swampy areas of our wetlands like our red-shouldereds so often do, waiting for a frog to misstep, a snake to slither by, or a red swamp crawfish to come ashore.

Note fine barring on tail.

Occasionally, I see them perched in the tops of the loblolly pines, but most often soaring overhead or quickly gliding by on their way to investigate some prey item.

In a glide.

The immature pictured here won’t acquire its brick red tail until next year’s molt.

Backlit adult red-tailed hawk.

I’m aware of only one fledged red-tailed hawk this season. The nest was in a loblolly pine on the west side of the south parking lot.

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