I’ve been telling myself that I really needed to get a telephoto lens for my Nikon and today was the day. I work in the summer so I can afford to get things like this. So, I brought the lens home, attached it to my camera and went out into the Secret Garden to greet the world through a long lens. I could hear the red-tailed hawks in the park. They like to hang out in one of the larch trees that stands just beyond the fence that separates my yard from the large city park that attracts birds and frisbee golfers. Two red-tailed hawks took up housekeeping in the park and now have two babies. Big babies. I was hoping to get a glimpse of them rustling around one of the big old pines. But all I saw and heard were robins, blue jays, and grey catbirds. I turned, wondering if I might see more birds lurking in my neighbor’s yard. And there they were. Two juvenile red-tails sitting atop my garage not 50 feet away.
Red-tails aren’t usually common back yard visitors, but because a pair has built a nest in one of the tall pines just west of my back gate, they are this summer a common sight and sound. It appears that the parents position the young birds in various trees in the park and then let them learn about the world from those tall perches.
But red-tails are common in North America. They are large hawks, and from a distance a female red-tail might be mistaken for an eagle, primarily because they have a similar silhouette. I used to see red-tails on my 45 minute drive from my previous home to my office in Grand Rapids, sometimes perched on a road sign, hunched over and scrutinizing the ditch, watching for any movement that might suggest a meal. I never thought I would have a family of four as neighbors. Both these juveniles eventually flew over me, swooping off the garage and heading for a tree in the park. Even as “babies” their wing span is impressive. Adult red-tails can have a wing span of 43 to 57 inches. That’s roughly four and a half to five feet.
And while my attention was tuned to the hawks, I did manage to notice that more day lilies are blooming. This prairie blue eyes is one of my favorites.