Sunday, June 14, 2009

For the Love of Leaves!

I recently wrote to a friend, "...everytime I even think of complaining in my mind about what I can't see or observe because of the leaves, I remind myself to be grateful for the hawk's nature, how they protect and watch over their young and for their perfectly selected nesting location that is so sheltered from sun, wind and interference that their raising of young is successful season after season."
This has been my dual response to the lush canopy of mature hardwoods that characterize the habitat of the Red-shouldered hawk. My observations have been as much about using my ears to hear their calls as it has been about what I can see. But Friday's visit was a fun one. By some miracle of timing and intuition, I was able to see this season's juvenile perched on a limb in the midst of all those leaves.I can say that even at a distance she took my breath away. This has been a marvelous journey, of surprises, beauty awe and frustration. To see the juvenile even from a distance was a reward I had not expected. This is the stage where sightings are scarce. The parents are away hunting, the juveniles perched or flying from branch to branch, hence the term "branchers". They favor mid level limbs and are hard to see even when you know where they landed. They readily hide behind those leaves, seeing me clearly when I can't see them.
Great photos I can not produce. But sketching makes my visits fun and even more meaningful.
My sketchbook note reads: "I could not have been more surprised. I was looking at the nest through my binoculars and noticed what I thought was a fallen clump of leaves. A second look and I discovered this beautiful juvenile perched on a low branch near the nest. Today marks 48 days counting from April 26 when I first saw a nestling. The parents hunt now, drop prey off and leave again. Although I heard calling in the distance, the adults did not return during my 3-hour visit."
Click this link to see all my posts and sketches about this pair of Red-shouldered hawks.


  1. I am really enjoying these posts of your Red-shouldered hawk family. I feel like I am getting an exclusive insider's view to their world.
    You must have been so excited when you realized you weren't looking at a clump of leaves! (I call them "brain-freezes" when you see something in nature that is so unexpected and wonderfully surprising that it takes your brain time to process).

  2. That you, Spinyurchin. That's a good expression, "brain-freeze". I've had plenty of those during this journey of observations!

  3. You really have patience to wait around not knowing if you'll be able to see the birds. I love the two page spread in your sketchbook showing the juvenile hawk perched in its beautiful habitat with all those glorious leaves.

  4. Just wonderful, Vickie! And now I am REALLY kicking myself, because there was a huge hawk perched on the eaves of a barn hear the highway yesterday, and I was just too tired to back up and turn around to try to sketch or photograph him!

    These are sooooo beautiful...


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