Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hawks in, owls out.

We haven't seen or heard from our owls in awhile. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with our new raptors - a pair of hawks that took up residence a few months back. For the first week that they were here, they were checking the place out and the our property was ringing with owl and hawk cries. Then they settled in, they all seemed to co-exist, but now the owls are silent or gone.

I watch the hawks closely because they're more of a danger to my poultry than the owls are since the poultry is in coops at night. They've circled the pen but aren't able to get in, so no losses to hawks yet.

I knew they were raising babies and even had an eye on their nest.

Do you see it there? Up in the top of the tree.

Every day I take my goats down into the lower pasture and have them eat the thistles that are down there. It's great fun. While the goats are eating, I have to stand in the middle of the thistle patch to keep them there.

It never ceases to amaze me how much goats love plants that other animals won't even look twice at.

While I'm up to my knees in thistles, in the sun, my girls are lounging under a tree with the horse they rode in on.

Huh. I thought that was a better picture. Hannah's the pink dot, she's helping her sister put her shoes back on, and Princess is the blaze of white to the right, grazing under the trees.

I got distracted yelling things back and forth with Hannah and my goats took the opportunity to go eat the good stuff. Tree leaves. I heard a squawk and looked up to see this:

Pulling on those leaves made the branch move. Moving the branch made the baby tree move. Moving the baby tree made something big flap its wings to keep its balance.

I was intrigued. I moved closer.

Oh, there it is. A baby hawk. How cute. I called the girls over, they looked at it, made appropriate squeals of joy and ran back to play with the pony. After Hannah got back under the trees she turned to yell out to me "Be careful that the mother and daddy hawk don't attack you, ok, Mother? They can't get us, we're under the tree." Ok, sweetie. Thank you.

I decided to see how close I could get before it flew away.

It's watching the dog.

Now it's posing. Handsome little thing. Maybe if I go around the tree it will fly away.

Nope, not yet.

That's its best side. Look at the gorgeous coloring.

It was about here that I realized that the bird couldn't fly well enough to fly away. But my relatively new country brain finally overrode my "common sense ain't all that common" city brain and I realized that even if he couldn't fly, he was starting to get very agitated and maybe a bit angry and it might be better to move away. It's in his eyes.

And maybe that beak. That's a sharp beak.

I'm still city enough that I get excited when I see "wildlife". Know what else is exciting? That this is my children's life.

Since then, I've been more careful about watching the hawks in flight and I've seen some funny things. There are, apparently, two baby hawks. And baby hawks learning to fly are about as dadgum cute (am I country enough yet to say dadgum?) as baby humans learning to walk. Their equivalent of falling is misjudging an air current and having it whip them nearly straight up in the air or not being strong enough to hold them so that they dip wildly before they catch themselves. Watching them practice their killing dive is amazing, especially when they misjudge how close a tree branch or, I don't know, the *ground*, is. Listening to them practice their loud hunting cry is a little bit thrilling.

And my two year old now says "Hawk! Fly!" That makes me smile.


Nita said...

Great pictures Sarah - our trees are so much taller, we can never hope to get so close.

It's ironic about the owl/ hawk thing, we lost more poultry to owls than hawks. During the grazing season when the hens were outside, our nesting pair of ravens kept the hawks away from the chickens. A pair of crows also gave them heck. The only time we ever had a hawk kill, was if we left the flock out too late in the year - once the rodents hiberate, the hawks get pretty hungry.

Again, I love the header picture, the colors look like a great quilt in the making... and I'm still giggling about your little pole dancer!

Katey said...

Those pictures are great! What a beautiful bird.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Wonderful pictures - absolutely amazing.

Come see my 9/04/08 blog post please.

Pat in TN said...

We have hawks here, living in our woods, and I love to sit out back and watch them soar and 'talk' to each other while in flight.

What great pictures you got ... they're amazing!

Paula said...

Those pictures are fantastic! I can see all the little details on the beak and in the feathers. I love to watch them dive. And how cute is that pic of the little one tummy-swinging?! I remember my kids doing that when they were younger ... and then doing it again, um, just last week. Great post!