The Red-shouldered Stoop

It’s not summer yet. Heck, it’s not even spring yet, but the local Red-shouldered Hawks are certainly thinking about the seasons in front of them. The fine weather of the previous week brought out the red-shoulders in numbers, and they were definitely in an amorous state of mind, soaring over the Wetlands, talons dangling below them. Their aerial displays and loud, constant vocalizations could hardly be missed by any earthbound humans below.

There were a few Red-tailed Hawks about too.

As I’ve often said in this journal, I see Red-tailed Hawks at least once a week during winter here at the Museum but there’s a period during the summer when I may not see them at all. Part of the reason for their summertime leaves of absence may be the Red-shouldered Hawks.

When the red-shoulders have breeding-season hormones flowing through their bodies, the larger redtails have to be moved along. The redtails are apparently perceived as a threat to the red-shoulders’ successful nesting. Although I’ve witnessed these rousts of the redtails by the smaller red-shoulders many times in the past, my attempts at getting images of a redtail roust have been less than stellar.

The following sequence was shot by Animal Keeper Sarah the same day as the Great Backyard Bird Count (2/18) when there were six Red-shouldered hawks aloft at one time.

This is a Red-tailed Hawk.
This is a Red-shouldered Hawk, high above the redtail.
The red-shoulder turns,
tucks, and…
The redtail (lower left) leaves the scene while the red-shoulder glides off to return to what it had been doing, soaring on the wind.

Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

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