Monday, September 11, 2006

Country Red-tail Update

York County, PA juvenile begs from a favorite perch, August 23, 2006.

You never know when an adaptable Red-tail will suddenly appear.

Madison, Wisconsin: It's a four lane highway. An interstate ramp borders the small grassy space on one side, and morning traffic for the mall and airport on the others. The light is red, we wait. And there she is, a Red-tail on the grass, prey in talons, squeezing. The driver can't believe his eyes, though he may well have passed by without seeing just such a scene many a time before. The light changes. We're loathe to leave but make our left turn. I crane my neck to see out the rear window just in time to see her sailing off into the distance.

The Red-tail family in York County, PA is still going strong. The juveniles though now hunting and according to report sometimes successful, still set up a persistent begging chorus at the sight of either parent. The adults as far as has been scantily observed are not moved by their progeny to do more then stoically watch them. Though they may have done, no parentally hunted goodies have lately been seen being deposited for the young beggars.

One juvenile less shy than the other, when no humans are in evidence, has been observed sitting in a front yard evergreen eyeing the area below the bird feeder where mice sometimes search for spilled seed. Though the second human eyes are spyed by a window or a car turns into the distant entrance to the drive, the young hawk is off in an instant. No Pale Male and company tolerance of humans here.

My daughter reports that in the past two years since the Red-tails moved in, that garden predation by bunnies has dropped off the chart. For the first time in ten years the green beans actually made it to maturity last year. That's on the plus side.

On the minus side for humans, though always a Groundhog preference, the current resident Groundhogs seem now to exclusively dig their burrows under the potting shed, the barn, or any other stucture in which a nice solid overhang will protect their entrances. A grown Groundhog seems on the large side for a Red-tail, but I imagine a very young one could make a very tasty hawk brunch.

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