Friday, December 14, 2012

Red-tailed Hawk (collection)

The hawk you see on the telephone pole during your trip to Grandma’s house is most likely a Red-tailed Hawk. The chance of it being a Red-tailed Hawk is even greater in winter when many more Red-tailed Hawks move down from the far north to swell the population.  It’s a good thing.

America didn’t always look like it looks today.  Millions of telephone poles sprang up last century and Red-tailed Hawks took advantage of them to increase their range and numbers. 

The utility poles are a fact, but this is my observation.  Where are you most likely to see hawks…utility poles?  
Why? It works for them. 

Many man-made structures are tall and clear of trees and a taller perch makes for better views, which makes for better hunting…makes sense.

This Red-tailed Hawk had a desert full of ten-foot trees from which to choose. Instead he chose the 50-foot cell tower on a busy intersection connecting two four-lane highways.  Seems to be an odd choice for a perch, but that is where his view was best…advantage hawk.


A Red-tailed Hawk will soar in circles over a large area in search of food.  

They eat mostly mammals like this desert dwelling Harris’s Antelope Squirrel.  Mice, voles and rabbits also make up a sizeable portion of the Red-tailed Hawk’s diet, but contrary to the urban myth about Red-tailed Hawks and according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
“It’s very rare for a Red-tailed Hawk to go after dogs or cats.”

Adapt or die is the fate for species living in a changing environment and there is little doubt we are in a changing environment.  The Red-tailed Hawk may be ahead in the game of change, as he seems to be doing quite well. His numbers are increasing and there’s little concern for his long-term survival.

That’s a good thing, especially if you enjoy seeing Red-tailed Hawks on your way to Grandma’s house.