There are a number of Red-shouldered Hawks around the swamps I frequent. I often hear them call, and this day I finally spotted one on an open branch. I thought he was about to fly after displaying the rousing behavior.
Instead he settled in and called some more. I’ve observed Red-shouldered Hawks make a lot of noise like this before when they appear to be hunting, as contrary as it seems. All potential prey should be driven into hiding.
I moved to a vantage point on a perpendicular trail just in time to see him fly off.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph a Red-shouldered Hawk up close. He was on a tree branch next to the main path around my favorite pond and there were no sticks in front of his face! Ted and I were walking together and didn’t see the Hawk until we were quite close.
Red-shouldered Hawk – click image for larger view
The Hawk was unconcerned about our presence and after taking a few shots I continued on my way, turned back and got a profile head shot. It’s not much of a photograph with no background, but I thought it was interesting to see the feather and head detail.
This is the tree the Red-shouldered Hawk first chose when he first left the open area with his frog lunch. He was much more protected than on the ground but I could tell he was still uneasy as at least two other Hawks were calling nearby.
He took to the air again and I thought I had seen the last of him. I turned the other way back towards the end of the pond to watch the herons and heard a kerfuffle of wings and squawking off to my right.
I’m not quite sure what happened next as my view was obstructed, but soon the Hawk with the frog changed direction again. You can see a third Hawk in the tree in the background between the tail and wing of Hawk One below.
He went on his way without being followed and presumably finished the frog in peace.
I had been watching this Red-shouldered Hawk as he watched a low marshy area from a nearby branch. When he spotted lunch it was just a matter of seconds from branch to capture.
I was fortunate that he landed in a sunny spot several feet below where I stood giving me a good view.
He held his prey with both feet. When I developed the images I could see that lunch was a frog.
He ate little bits at a time, tearing pieces off with his beak. He changed directions several times with little hops. I could hear several other Red-shouldered Hawks not too far off and there was a small flock of Ibis about 10 feet away.
I doubt the Ibis would challenge a Hawk for a meal, but I’m sure other raptors would. After eating part of the frog the hawk re-arranged himself and his grip.
A minute later he flew up into a nearby more protected tree, then flew down the pond to a higher vantage point.