On this date 9

a pair of mating red-shouldered hawks Buteo lineatus in treetop
Nine years ago, early in the morning, I was watching a pair of red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus) wheeling overhead and making a certain amount of noise – I was going to add, “as they often do,” but this is not necessarily true; we certainly tend to notice them when they are, because red-shouldered hawks have a distinctively plaintive and forlorn-sounding call, but when they’re not attracting our attention with these territorial or mating displays, we rarely ever look up to see who might be soaring up there silently.

Such was not the case on this date, and as I watched, the circling pair eventually both found perches fairly close to one another, which I believed was promising, as well as confirming that the calls were for courtship. Being prepared with the long lens and tripod, I was able to capture the moments when they reached their accord.

a pair of mating red-shouldered hawks Buteo lineatus in treetop
While they were cooperative to the extent that they played pattycake where I could see them, they hadn’t picked a spot that was clear of intervening branches, so award-winners these images are not. And there is something a bit… unconvincing, let’s say… about the total lack of differentiating expression or posture or anything from the female, who could have been dubbed in from any other photo of a perched hawk. I often say that we shouldn’t be expecting human reactions from any other species, because they have their own rules of interaction, but sheesh.

Since this occurred in a neighbor’s tree within easy sight of our yard, I had hoped this to meant the nest would be close by, but most avian species would already have the nest completed by this moment, it being one of the ways the male convinces the female that he is successful and worthy. True to form, I had no idea where the nest was in the neighborhood and could do no observations of rearing or fledging or anything; that would come several years later at the new place.

And speaking of that, we’ll include a photo from the same date in 2015, from the edge of the pond near that same new place.

nighttime long exposure of snow blanketed woods
Now here’s what’s faintly amusing about this: I had selected these photos last week right after preparing the last On This Date entry, and right after having done a photo outing without needing a jacket. So at that point, it was commentary on how different the weather could be in February. Just a few days after that, however, we had a winter storm for this year, kinda killing the commentary, and together with the On This Date entry from a few weeks back, I started to realize that perhaps February storms in North Carolina were not as uncommon or variable as I’d believed.

And I’m still writing this a day ahead, so if I go into the image folders and choose something like some sunny day as more commentary, I’m still liable to be thwarted by what the weather actually is when this posts, so screw it.