Two Red-shouldered Hawks

After watching the Rusty Blackbird – more than enough to make the day – the rest of a walk through the neighborhood was relatively uneventful, though quite nice.

Brown Thrashers sang in several spots, and there were the usual number of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Northern Cardinals, House Finch, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, American Crows and Blue Jays. Two Brown-headed Nuthatches chattered in pines, and I heard the nasal unh-unh calls of one passing Fish Crow. One Great Blue Heron flew over low and slow.

I did not hear or see a single Ruby-crowned or Golden-crowned Kinglet, no Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco or Cedar Waxwings, and no White-breasted Nuthatch; and I saw only two Yellow-rumped Warblers all day. While Yellow-rumped Warblers are small and can be unobtrusive – so I easily might have missed some – in general there have seemed to be very few of them here all this season, compared to previous years.

Still, not to complain too much, Pine Warblers sang their musical trills in several wooded spots. Eastern Towhees called chur-whee and White-throated Sparrows called tseet from hidden spots in shrubs and thickets. Eastern Phoebes sang, and hunted from low branches. A few quiet Northern Mockingbirds perched in low places or stood in the grass. And one small yellow Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly fluttered past me.

Back at home, as I walked down our driveway toward the house, I heard the choppy calls of a Red-shouldered Hawk. I thought the calls were coming from the woods behind our yard because they didn’t sound too far away, and it was several moments before I thought to look up – and saw the breathtaking shape of a Red-shouldered Hawk soaring very high, straight above me. Sunlight made it shine all over, and poured through the translucent crescents toward the ends of its wings so clearly it was easy to see why they sometimes are described as “windows.”

Watching it soar in grand, sweeping circles, climbing higher, I realized there was a second Red-shouldered Hawk even higher – too high to see at all without binoculars. They were calling back and forth with short, choppy calls – not the clear, whistled kee-yer, but a harsher, more agitated sounding churk! sometimes one syllable, sometimes two – che-churk and it was amazing how clear and close the calls sounded as the hawks flew so high above.

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