Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Vignette: A visitor's piercing gaze

I was eating lunch when a winged visitor swooped by the living room window, landing in the mimosa tree adjacent to our backyard patio.  I ran into my office to grab my point-and-click camera, sure that he'd be gone before I could find and focus it on his position in the tree.  Much to my surprise, he didn't immediately fly off as the bigger birds here usually do.  I couldn't get a very good shot through the window glass so I risked opening up the screen door and sneaking outside.  I got off a few shots before he moved to the neighbor's pine tree on the slope below.




The pine tree was too far away for me to get any more photos of value.  I stood at the edge of our backyard hedge for a good 15 to 20 minutes in the hope that maybe I could get a photo of his magnificent wingspan when he flew off but he just sat in the pine staring off into the distance until I finally gave up.  Then, of course, he flew away.

I'm no expert on wild birds but my guess is that he was a juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).  I understand that the birds tend to choose one perch to hunt from so perhaps he'll be back.  The squirrels were no where to be seen while he was present but the hummingbirds appeared to have no fear of him.  My photos of his piercing countenance are my contribution to Anna's Wednesday vignette meme at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


25 comments:

  1. Great photos! Isn’t it such a treat when we manage to find the camera in time and the motive hasn’t ran off or flown off when we are back! I have often told myself off for tidying away my camera – it should be on my kitchen table all the time, ready to take photos whenever the situation is there :-)

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    1. I think I should hang the camera around my neck, Helene! I was in a garden center earlier today, sans camera, an saw the most incredible huge emerald green beetle on a plant and had no way to get its photo.

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  2. I agree with Helene, great photos for something so far away. You have shown a lot of patience getting them.

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    1. I really would have liked to get a photo of the hawk in flight, Jane, but I didn't have quite enough patience to wait him out.

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  3. Fabulous shots of a beautiful raptor! Well done.

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  4. What a beautiful bird. I love raptors. How lucky that it stuck around long enough to have its picture taken. I think you're ID is probably right, though I'm no expert, either.

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    1. The red-tailed hawks are the most common ones here, although I usually only see them from a distance floating above the harbor. My brother (commentator below) seems to agree with the ID too.

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  5. Exciting shots!! It sounds like he was pretty easy-going with you out there!

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    1. I wondered if his willingness to hang around had to do with his being a juvenile - perhaps they aren't as cautious about letting a human get close.

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    2. I was wondering about that too!

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  6. What a beautiful fellow he is, well done on getting such a wonderful shot of him.

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    1. I was pretty thrilled. I think that's the closest I've gotten to one of these birds.

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  7. Yes, Red-tailed, juvenile. Without a physical exam it's almost impossible to tell males from females. However, if you get a pair together (they usually mate for life) you might get a clue with the male being slightly smaller. Good shots!

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    1. Thanks Eric. He (or she) looked so much smaller in the photos than sitting there in the tree. And he was really impressive when he flew in with his wings fully outstretched.

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  8. What a handsome and regal visitor! Great pictures!

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    1. He did have a regal bearing - and a somewhat disdainful and dismissive gaze.

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  9. Dear Kris, great photos of the hawk, I know they are hard to capture, since they are shy and fly off the moment you arrive with your camera. We have them in our garden, too, from time to time and I am always in awe of these majestic birds.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. They can be a little overbearing, though, Christina - all the smaller birds go into hiding when the hawks are holding court.

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  10. wonderful vignette. I love those raptors.

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    1. I keep hoping I'll see an owl - I hear them and I saw one for a nanosecond in silhouette one night but I've never come close to getting a good look at one.

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  11. Such a beautiful and noble bird! I once read that hawks prefer ground-dwellers such as mice and squirrels, but of course they will eat birds. They prefer mid-sized birds, rather than tiny ones like hummingbirds. I expect the hummers attitude is, "Catch me if you can!"

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    1. The hummingbirds do have attitude, don't they! They're the same way about having their photos taken.

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  12. I always assume our local hawks are Red Tails, but a neighbor says they're Cooper's. There's not a perch here big enough to tempt them to linger but I do keep binoculars handy outside. I always see them in the distance harassing the crows in the palm trees.

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    1. I usually see these hawks floating over the harbor. My husband suggested that it might be a Cooper's but I checked my Sibley birds book (inherited from my MIL) and it bore a much closer resemblance to the juvenile red-tailed hawk.

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