|Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk w/ squirrel in talon|
Back in October of last year, we had quite an exciting encounter with a young Red-Tailed Hawk. While strolling along one of the paths, we caught a glimpse of a juvenile Red-Tailed up in a tree with what appeared to be a juicy little morsel in his talons. He seemed very happy to have caught this little squirrel until the worst thing in the world happened… He dropped it. The young Red-Tailed immediately got very upset and was not afraid to show it.
|He dropped his squirrel and is NOT happy about it!|
|Calling out to mom in the branch above, upset about his spilled squirrel|
He cried out immediately and started to fluff up in distress. You could just hear and see the agony that took him over as he opened his wings and gave aching calls. At first we thought he was just crying to cry out of anger. But then we noticed that either Mama hawk was just over a few branches, and the young guy was facing his parent shrieking away as if to say in an ever so whiny voice, “MoooOOOmmmmm!!! I dropped my squirrel! Wah, wah… I dropped my squirrel!” It was like watching a little kid who was just handed an ice cream cone, and upon first like, the ice cream rolls off to splat on the floor.
|Looking longingly at his dropped catch (see below)|
What was another great thing about this experience, other than just the sheer awesomeness of it all, was that civilians also got in on the action. Folks always look at us curiously as we bird, as I’m sure you birders are all used to. But when you do it in an urban park, you sometimes get even more crazy looks. And sometimes it’s hard to explain the excitement when it’s something super tiny and difficult to find in a tall tree, like a warbler, or if it’s something outwardly unexciting to look at, like a brownish bird like a Swainson’s Thrush.
|"Why did this happen to ME?!?!"|
But to be able to point out that you’re looking at a hawk, and to be able to say that it’s a young one that has just dropped it’s squirrel meal, and to see it fluff up and flap its wings is a whole other thing. People got excited! They took pictures! They were sharing the news with other passers by! It was a really exciting moment for these Hipster Birders to be able to connect with laypeople, even if for just a short while.
|Finally coming to terms with his lost meal.|
As for the hawk, he’ll live to catch another squirrel. And eventually I’m sure he’ll hone in on his skills and not drop them (that often). And as for the people, I hope they’ll learn to look up a little more often and appreciate the birds a little bit more.