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Yard Hawks, part the second

December 19, 2012
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My yard is not what you’d call a wildlife magnet.  My family and I live in a townhome in an unexceptional neighborhood in Chapel Hill filled with graduate students and recent immigrants.  In the nearly ten years I’ve lived here my yard list has barely managed to crack 80, and many of those are birds in the pond about 100 meter out my back door, which stretches the definition of “yard” to very near its breaking point.  But way back in 2009 I did have a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks build a nest in the stand of pines immediately behind me.  They were fun to watch during the moments that they weren’t hollaring like Fred Phelps at a gay soldier’s funeral, and managed to fledge two of the three chicks that hatched (I found what was left of the third several weeks later.  The urban jungle is cruel and food deficient).

In any case, in the years since shoulders have been transient.  None have stuck around to use the nest again.  At least until now.  A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks has been hanging around more or less constantly for the last month.  I hear them more than I see them, but the other morning one of the adults was sitting in a snag across the road eyeballing an apparent roaming juvenile and escorting it from the premises with extreme prejudice.  Which, if you know Red-shouldered Hawks, requires lots of screaming.

Red-shouldered Hawks - Orange Co, NC

Not only screaming, but also talons first haranguing (which I didn’t manage to catch with my camera), until the offending hawk decided enough was enough and vamoosed to less discriminating company.

Red-shouldered Hawk - Orange Co, NC

Does this mean that my hawks, or some similar pair, have returned?  Hard to say.  There’s undoubtedly better places to set up shop than in my back yard.  But as loud as they are sometimes, I’m glad to have them around.  Now if I could get them to keep the feral cat population in line…

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