Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Haughty Hawk

Last week while walking below the hospital along the river at noon, we spotted this Red-tailed hawk in a nearby tree, I stopped and took a number of pictures of the very indifferent raptor as it stood on one foot and groomed itself. As we returned to work, the hawk was still there on the same branch, so still that it looked like part of the old tree itself.

I returned to the same trail in the evening with my daughter for another walk. The wild life is abundant down here and we saw a deer, a muskrat and a good variety of birds. I heard an awful racket in a shrubby area under the bridge where the highway crosses the river.

A Red-tailed hawk was sitting motionless again on a branch while a frantic and noisy male Red-winged blackbird attacked the much bigger bird over and over again. The little bird would fly down from a higher branch and shriek as it flew into the hawk. I watched it do this at least ten times...and the hawk did not flinch.

I have seen a Red-tailed hawk eat a Red-winged blackbird near our home and I have watched smaller birds pursue hawks across the sky. This blackbird must have been protecting a nearby nest and had no regard for its personal safety at this close range.

I wonder if both hawks were one and the same bird? They were both fearless and confident and took their prideful position on the river bank. I attended a raptor show last fall and the bird handler felt the Red-tailed hawk would be a good choice for a national bird as they are found in all Canadian provinces. (We do not have a national bird) A number of different hawks are found locally but in my experience the Red-tailed is seen most commonly.

Nature is harsh, but I do hope the brave blackbird was able to defend his nest this time.


  1. Read this blog at 10:30 PM mountain time. The picture of the red-winged blackbird and the hawk deserve an honorable mention ++.
    It must be a really rare sight. When are you going to do a photo book of Ontario birds? School children need to learn about their feathered neighbors. Becca & you could do a Kinzie (Burgess) Birdbook for children.

  2. Nature is harsh, but I do hope the brave blackbird was able to defend his nest this time.

    I hope so too!

    Also, love th hawk picture (you know which one). :)

  3. Incredible pictures of that hawk and the red-winged blackbird--he doesn't seem to have much physical impact on the hawk, I wonder if his weapon is annoyance? The hawk gets tired of being harassed and leaves? I agree with Mexico Mom on the book of Ontario birds.

  4. Oh, that last photo is priceless Ruth! Brave blackbird indeed!

  5. Ruth, your last picture is remarkable.

  6. Beautiful images of the hawks. I've watched many a smaller bird harass a larger bird relentlessly.

  7. Anonymous9:39 am GMT-4

    Great pictures Ruth - and what a neat experience. Usually you see smaller birds harassing hawks in flight, not perched. Really cool!

  8. Absolutely fascinating! Wonder why the hawk sat so still? Was he luring the blackbird into a trap?

    Thanks for being so observant and sharing these great photographs.

  9. Great hawk pictures! I went and read up some on these birds after reading your blog. They can live up to 20 years. A kill can be as large as a rabbit yet they will eat insects too. Perhaps that's why one sees so many of them ... they are adaptable! (There are a LOT of red tailed hawks down in the Fraser Valley and we've seen one or two up here too.)

  10. I hope so, too. I'm amazed how courageous they are to defend. I recently saw a Robin successfully ward off a few crows in defense of its nest.

  11. Does he ever blend into that tree. David and Goliath came to mind seeing the Red wing BB and the hawk.Here we have crows robbing nests and then I see eagles being chased by crows - nature is tough!

  12. Mom- I use the auto post feature of Blogger and set it for midnight. And you are 2 hours behind us. A book... hmm. I must keep my day job for now.

    Becka- That hawk wasn't hungry. I am afraid it already had dinner.

    Beth- The blackbird did not have any strength against the hawk. It was likely as annoying as a mosquito is to us. I was fortunate to watch this scene, but I am learning that there is always something new to observe when outdoors.

    Jayne and Lynne- Thanks...I had to use digital zoom in shade, but the picture was clear enough to post.

    Zhakee- Around nesting time the little birds seem to be far more aggressive.

    Laura- Thanks. Yes, I see pursuits in the air, but this encounter surprised me.

    NCMW- I don't think this was a trap set by the hawk. It didn't seem interested in the bird at all.

    CS- I think this must have been an older, wise hawk who understood from experience the creatures along the river (including humans) Twenty years is quite a lifespan for a wild bird.

    Mary- Crows are even more abundant than hawks. They must be a constant threat to nesting birds.

    Jean- Nature is tough. But life for a hawk must be tough in its own way too, especially in the winter.

  13. Those photos are stunning and I am more than sure the Red=winged blackbird can chase away the hawk!

  14. What stunning pictures of the red tail hawk.
    You captured nature in it's honest form as the blackbird defends his nest.
    Yes, nature is harsh, but it's also the circle of life.

    Ruth...I have been told that there is a bald eagle's nest on Victoria St. N. near the new pond just before the lights in Breslau. The nest is apparently on a hydro pole. I haven't had a chance to check it out, but hope to in the next couple of days. Thought you would like to know.

  15. Neat pictures Ruth! I've never been able to get very close to a Red-Tailed Hawk.

  16. The Red-winged Blackbird and the Hawk side-by-side is an amazing photo! From personal experience I know Red-winged Blackbirds are very protective for we used to have one nest in the cattails by our driveway and if anyone got too close the Blackbird would dive at them, swooping down very close to their head.

    Thanks for your visit, and yes, a maritimer is a maritimer forever; we are a loyal species to our region :-) You have a lovely blog.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.