Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6: Red-shouldered Hawk

Back on 16 April 2010 I wrote a post about how I'm often fooled by blue jays mimicking hawks. I later expanded on this topic of bird mimicry for a monthly natural history column that I write for the local paper and my land trust's website. That's why, when I was up on my roof shoveling snow yesterday morning and heard the call of a red-shouldered hawk, I barely looked up. I had heard the local band of blue jays yammering not long before and just assumed it was one of them. After all, the red-shouldered hawk, while increasingly more common in Maine, is still an unusual sight in these parts. Especially in early February. I've certainly never seen one in Camden before, although individual birds have been spotted nearby by me and others in springs and falls past.

So I continued with my labors, heaving pile upon pile of snow off the roof. Until I heard the call again, louder and closer. I couldn't help but look up, if just to see this talented blue jay. Imagine my surprise when I saw an actual red-shouldered hawk fly through my back yard, moving down river. If ever I needed a reminder to be ready for anything as a birder, there it was. You never know when something interesting is going to turn up in your own back yard. (This new species became yard bird #70.)

Wind knows sixty words
for snow. Hawk only knows one,
which he yells loudly.

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