Playing with Hawks

While we were out on our walk/drive on Thursday, we got to an area that we had been to a couple of years ago, exploring a road that was on reservoir property. It’s a long road, leading from high up on the prairie

down into little hidden dells and mini-canyons

The last time we were in this particular place was a couple of years ago, around February or March, and the whole little dip was full of bluebirds.  It was an amazing sight, those little blue bullets zizzing back and forth and around the car.  This time, we didn’t see bluebirds, but did spy a couple of these magnificent birds in a tree:

They were big, maybe 18 to 20 inches, and took off shortly after I shot the above. We watched them wheel slowly into the air and float over us, observing. We had a nice walk around the place, enjoying a trickling creek

that led to a bigger, open area of water with a nice layer of ice even the sun couldn’t quite melt

After a good walk in the quiet, finding some lovely feathers that were all that were left over from Mr. or Mrs. Hawk’s dinner, we decided to head back home.  As we drove up out of the dip and back on to the high bluff that overlooked the entire lake to the east, G pointed out over the prairie south at some animal that moved.  Turned out it was another large hawk, rising up off the ground like a winged cloud, just skimming over the surface of the ground. We thought it might be after some prey, but in a moment it was clear that the bird was actually aiming to fly right in front of the car, which it did, and then came to land on a fence post just a few yards ahead.  These barbed-wire fences mark off the public, reservoir land from private state-held land.  I pulled up even with the bird, not wanting to startle him.  He had his head cocked, taking in the vehicle.  I rolled down the window and regarded him.  He was all of about ten feet away, a magnificent bird of prey. The camera, of course, was in the back seat.

“Hello, lovely,” I called to him softly, “Do you want to race?”  As if he had been waiting for me, he launched himself off the fence post, but not high in the air, staying right even with the height of the car window as I accelerated, trying to keep even with him.  He outflew me easily and went perhaps another hundred yards or so before landing on another fence post, where he perched and waited.

Again, I came even with him and spoke out, “You’re a fast one, aren’t you?” 

He cocked his bright eye toward me and I could have sworn he winked, then took off again, this time going higher, but staying in a tight circle right over the car as we headed on our way. He stayed with us until we were almost back on the main road, then spiraled higher into the sky and was off on his own business.  Magic, pure and simple.

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3 thoughts on “Playing with Hawks

  1. Hi GG,

    Nice account of your outing. Good pic of a red-tailed hawk. From your description I am betting your other hawk was a northern harrier (marsh hawk). The flight pattern sounds right for one. If it was mostly gray and white, it was a male. If it was tones of brown, with a barred tail – white at its base – it would have been a female or immature. Good behavior description on that one.

    What a great experience to have one land and give you such a great look even without a camera, I’ll bet you have a great mind photo of it.

    All those bluebirds in a mob like that must have been really fun to encounter!

    What reservoir is that down there?

    ~S

  2. Hi, Serendipity! Welcome to the blog. That’s the Pueblo Reservoir and Lake Pueblo where I hang out and have wonderful encounters. Are you in Colorado as well? Hope to see you back here!

    GG

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