Three Red-shouldered Hawks in the Woods

This morning was a great morning for Red-shouldered Hawks here! After months of seeing and hearing these woodland raptors very infrequently, suddenly today there were three in different parts of the woods around our neighborhood, two juveniles and one mature.

Around 7:45 it was already very warm, with a sunny blue sky but not yet the oppressive heat that would come later in the day. In shady spots the air still felt a hint of freshness. A Wood Thrush sang along one of the creeks, and near that spot, the first Red-shouldered Hawk was perched on a large dead stub of a sweet gum tree, surrounded by green foliage. With its back toward me and the sun climbing behind the trees, I couldn’t see much more than its silhouette, but it cried a clear kee-yer several times.

Further on, as I walked past a different part of the woods, I heard a call something like a rough, gargled djeeeurrr, repeated. A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk was perched on a very low branch and making this call. When I stopped to listen and watch, it flew a short distance away, to another spot a little deeper in the woods, and called again.

Only a few minutes further along, another juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk flew low through the trees from one spot to another, passing by me fairly close with its wings outspread, and up onto a branch where I could see it well for a few minutes.

Somehow the hawks seem to fill these woods with a different, more exhilarating spirit – a bigger and more expansive air. The warblers, vireos and flycatchers all are beautiful in their own ways and each one adds its own character to the mix, but a woodland hawk gives the place a whole new dimension.

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