Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Red-Shouldered Hawk Territory--II

What a difference a week makes.
Yesterday, March 30th, I visited my favorite Knoxville hawks again. In southeast Tennessee redbud are peppering the hillsides with magenta pink. Dogwood are opening, bluebirds singing and in red-shouldered hawk territory, yellow jasmine and trillium are in bloom.
But what caught my attention on this visit even more, the new greenery that now conspicuously decorates the hawk's nest. In the image below, the female is incubating on the nest. All around her you can see sprigs of green pine needles. Notice, also, the downy white feathers scattered about.Females are known to pluck feathers from the 'sweet spot', the place on their breast that makes contact with the eggs during incubation. This allows for more warmth to the eggs, as well as providing a downy material to tuck into the nest for softness.

I have marveled on more than one occasion at the synchronous cooperation between these two hawks, the innate knowledge that moves them to cooperate, to hold tight to the nest, to share their food. Just what prompts raptors to add fresh greens to the nest while incubating is uncertain. Biologists speculate that the aroma may deter insects. Others have referred to this as an announcement to other raptors that this nest is occupied.
Above you see the female carrying prey, a squirrel that the male has brought her. At the moment she comes to his perch for the food, the male zooms back to the nest to take over incubation. More details on how this cooperation works, coming up.
Bottom photo, trillium; top photo, jasmine; second image, eastern bluebird male on dogwood.

This post is part of a series on a nesting pair of red-shouldered hawks. To see the entire series, click here.

12 comments:

  1. Beautiful shots of the bluebird and hawk, Vickie. And oh, how I miss seeing the redbuds and dogwoods in bloom. I need to get out to the East Texas piney woods in such a bad way!! I can just imagine how beautiful Tennessee must be right now.

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  2. There are so many varieties of jasmine - I have several white ones and a pink in my garden but have not seen the yellow before. The photo with the hawk in flight is beautiful.

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  3. What a fascinating observation about the presence of greeneries inside the nest. Very cool!

    And I like the prey-captured photo too. What a moment!

    Thanks for the follow-up.

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  4. Vickie, I have not seen Triliums since we left Montreal in 1962! I do love them, they are so typical of northern Noth America. I do hope to see more of them as spting progresses....Of course I love your birds...

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  5. Fabulous photos, Vickie -- especially the female hawk with her prey!

    Thanks so very much for allowing us to come along on your hawking adventure!

    Cheers, Nona

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  6. WOW..this hawk series is awesome..I guess I have missed a few of your posts..
    your art is beautiful as always!

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  7. Love the trillium, something I miss here in the west! Love the bluebird! Excellent capture of the hawk with prey. Will this photo become a painting?

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  8. Hi Vickie--

    What a great post. Awesome photos and very well written--it really has that "bursting bud" feeling of just being packed with barely contained life.

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  9. Thank you everyone! I so appreciate your comments. I'm glad I included the trillium photo for those of you who miss that lovely species. I've always loved TN's changing seasons because of the fresh beauty each brings.

    Kathie, I'm mulling over all these photos and will definitely get started on a painting soon. It is wonderful to have such an indepth encounter.

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  10. I am taken by your posts on the Red-shouldered Hawks and have learned so much about their behavior and nesting habits reading your posts. This is our second year of the Red-shouldered Hawk nesting within a few hundred yards of the house, and I'm captivated by them. I worry almost every day that something is "not right", but then I find out it's typical mating / nesting behavior (such as the "sky dancing" ritual they perform.) I have wanted to ask you a blue million questions about the Red-shouldered Hawk since discovering your blog, but that would be like asking you to be a personal Red-shouldered Hawk advisor :) Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful experience. I hope I'll be capturing some photos of the fledglings this summer.

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  11. Ceacy Hailey sent me your blog.. I love it! :-D Beautiful imagery.

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  12. What a beautiful post - and so well written! That yellow jasmine and the bluebird make a gorgeous spring line up! I put a link to your blog about the Red-shouldered hawks...this is when the internet really shines! When you can share with people you don't know but who love the same things - just awesome, Vickie!

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