Thursday, March 31, 2011

Natural History of Red-tailed Hawks

The male Red-tail feeding on our local songbirds
I've been reading up on my neighbors.  Its OK, its not like stalking or anything.  I'm reading up on my neighbors the Red-tailed Hawks.  Red-tails are the most common hawk in North America.  They were here long before humans stepped foot on this continent. According to the experts Red-tails mate for life and are very territorial, so most likely these hawks are the pair that raised two young here last year.  With the male's help the female incubates the eggs for about 30 days.  I think I first saw the female on the nest in early March and she is still on the nest so the eggs should be hatching within the next few weeks.   Then it takes about 40 days before the birds leave the nest.  Fledging can take up to 10 weeks while the young birds learn to fly and hunt.

I'm waiting for signs that the eggs have hatched.  Basically it'll be easy to spot the frantic back and forth efforts of the male to bring food to the nest.  I'll recognize the haggard look in his eyes as I think back 18 years to my son's frequent late night feedings. It's a look I remember well.