The folks in the Riverwalk Bird Club don't just watch birds. The group includes some excellent photographers.
Nooga.com Outdoors is happy to share their great photos by featuring a Bird of the Week.
This week, we feature a red-tailed hawk, taken by Charles Dean.
—This is probably the most common hawk in North America. If you’ve got sharp eyes, you’ll see several individuals on almost any long car ride, anywhere. Red-tailed hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times, you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky.
—The red-tailed hawk has a thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound—at least, that’s what Hollywood directors seem to think. Whenever a hawk or eagle appears on-screen, no matter what species, the shrill cry on the soundtrack is almost always a red-tailed hawk.
—Birds are amazingly adapted for life in the air. The red-tailed hawk is one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, yet even the biggest females weigh in at only about 3 pounds. A similarly sized small dog might weigh 10 times that.
—The Harlan's hawk breeds in Alaska and northwestern Canada and winters on the southern Great Plains. This very dark form of the red-tailed hawk has a marbled white, brown and gray tail instead of a red one. It’s so distinctive that it was once considered a separate species, until ornithologists discovered many individuals that were intermediate between Harlan's and more typical red-tailed hawks.
—Courting red-tailed hawks put on a display in which they soar in wide circles at a great height. The male dives steeply, then shoots up again at an angle nearly as steep. After several of these swoops, he approaches the female from above, extends his legs and touches her briefly. Sometimes, they grab onto one other, clasp talons and plummet in spirals toward the ground before pulling away.
—Red-tailed hawks have been seen hunting as a pair, guarding opposite sides of the same tree to catch tree squirrels.
—The oldest known red-tailed hawk was 28 years, 10 months old.
This information is courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.