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.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.