I was busy taking care of things in the backyard when I realized that the calls of a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) seemed a bit too clear. It’s quite common to hear them as they wheel overhead marking territory, but this was fixed and quite close. It took no effort at all to spot it sitting on a dead branch just off the back of the property.
This is fairly uncommon; unlike the red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered tend to be a bit more secretive, alighting in thicker foliage where they’re not easily spotted, and I’ve spent plenty of time trying to find one that I knew, from the calls, was right there and yet couldn’t quite lay eyes on it. This one probably couldn’t have been more obvious if it tried, and I was in plain sight myself no more than 15 meters away. It stayed put as I got the camera, and even as I returned to my chores.
The one thing it didn’t do was offer up any calls while I was shooting, the only evidence that it even recognized my presence. Well, there was another bit, and we’re about to get to that. Eight minutes have passed between the first image and this one, and you can see how the sun has moved on and thrown more shadow on my friend here, but at least I got a nice frame with some lighting into that eye. It hadn’t moved – the change in perspective is due to shooting from different parts of the yard, which really isn’t that big, so you get a faint impression of how close the hawk was, even though these frames are significantly cropped.
Eventually it made eye contact, though even this wasn’t an indication of anxiety because it remained where it was – it spent far more time looking over its shoulder at something behind it than down at me, though I saw nothing back there myself. Most likely, it was hearing something stirring in the undergrowth and was watching for prey.
Given that this was only 20 meters, if that, from the nest that I featured six years ago, it remains possible that this was one of the young raised therein, or even a parent – but not likely. Six years is a long life for most birds in the wild, not to mention that we’ve always had plenty of the species around, so who knows? So although I haven’t spent a lot of time the past few days in chasing pics, I can present a handful that represents a little activity. And I’m working on some stuff that will appear here eventually – just want to get it right.