Red-shouldered Hawks

A cold, gray day. Heavy rain yesterday and last night left muddy water standing in roadside ditches and puddles in potholes. In mid-afternoon, as I walked through the neighborhood, the landscape looked drenched and dreary, bare-limbed trees against a featureless sky, soggy pines, cedars and bushes, and brown, wet grass.

In a low branch of a bare-limbed pecan tree, an immature Red-shouldered Hawk sat quietly, its breast creamy-pale and streaked with a bib of dark brown. As I walked near, and paused to lift my binoculars, it spread its wings and flew, showing muted bands in its tail. It flew low, through a line of cedar trees, and disappeared from my view, but flying slowly, as if it did not intend to go far. From the cedars, I heard the calls of White-throated Sparrows, and the “see-see-see” of Golden-crowned Kinglets.

Just four days ago, on another cold, dark, gray afternoon at about the same time, I saw another Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on a low branch in a tree in the yard next door. This one was mature. It looked large and impressive, its breast glowing a rich red-orange in the gloom of the afternoon.

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