Thursday, September 17, 2015

Red-tailed Hawks

Just before we departed from Illinois last July I took a brief walk in the small park near our daughter's home in Batavia.

I caught this nice view of an American Robin perched on a the fence around the fishing dock on the creek:

American Robin on fence 20150715

By chance, I looked up to see a Red-tailed hawk approaching from a distance. A smaller bird, which I eventually identified as a Red-winged Blackbird, was attacking the hawk. When the two moved within camera range I took a series of photos. I noticed that the hawk was carrying a dark object in its talons and a couple of leafy branches from a tree or shrub trailed behind. Hawks sometimes "decorate" their nests with fresh branches, which has been interpreted as serving to repel parasites.

At first I thought it was the nest of some creature, but when I processed the images at home I discovered that it was the body of an immature  Cedar Waxwing. Presumably, the hawk had incidentally picked up some greenery as it lunged at the small bird. (Click on images for larger views-- the waxwing's tail, which protrudes out from under the left side of the hawk's tail, is gray with a yellow tip):

Red-tail pursued by Red-winged Blackbird 06-20150715

Red-tail pursued by Red-winged Blackbird 05-20150715

Redtailed Hawk with Cedar Waxwing prey 2-20150715

Red-tail pursued by Red-winged Blackbird 04-20150715

This hawk is likely a member of the family that has nested in an old oak that borders a tree nursery adjacent to the park. They have several favored roosting places, including neighbors' rooftops, where this pair was attacked by Common Grackles:

Grackle Attack 20090508

Here. a Red-winged Blackbird is in a heightened state of excitement as a Red-tail approaches:

Red-winged Blackbird 2-20110704

The blackbird flies up to attack the hawk:

 Red-tailed Hawk and blackbird 20110704

Red-tailed Hawk and blackbird 3-20110704

Red-tailed Hawk and blackbird 2-20110704

During the previous week we saw these two perched on a utility pole. The one on the left is a young bird, as its tail is not yet red:

Red-tailed Hawks 20150711

The older bird flew to another favored roost nearby, the rotating tornado warning siren! Since warnings are not all that unusual, I find it hard to believe that it would return after being startled by the sudden movement and extremely loud noise of the huge siren:

Red-tailed Hawk on tornado warning siren 3-20150711

Red-tailed Hawks have provided me with some particularly nice images:

Red-tailed Hawk in flight 20130110

Red-tailed Hawk detail 2-20121120

We visited Nelson Lake/Dick Young Marsh Forest Preserve before departing from Illinois:

Nelson Lake path HDR 20150714
Back home in Florida, a Snowy Egret cast a fine reflection:

Snowy Egret 20150720

A near perfect White Peacock butterfly specimen was one of scores that must have just emerged after a couple of rainy days:

White Peacock 2-20150720
= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


  1. the raptors are so beautiful, even as they eat pretty songbirds. :) love the fence percher and the sweet egret reflection!

  2. Absolutely incredible captures, and I think it's photo 7 where I heard, thanks for the seat! Very fun photos!

  3. Amazing action photos! I have not seen smaller birds attack a hawk.

  4. Your first shot of the Robin perched on the fence is so pretty.
    Loved your series with the Hawk and the Red Winged Blackbird chasing it.
    Lots of lovely views with pretty skies, great reflections and a beautiful butterfly to end the post.

  5. KCS, those action shots of the hawks are amazing. Congrats!

  6. Stunning series of shots! I can't get enough of the hawks.

  7. Awesome series on the Hawks. Great post and photos! Have a happy weekend ahead!

  8. Your bird photos are amazing - it's hard to believe that the black bird which is so much smaller would go after the raptor.

  9. Birds of prey are among my favorite animals. Even though the blackbirds and others offer some harassment, they do well to keep their distance. The Hawks may decide that the field mouse is not the only thing available on the menu.

  10. Really great aerial action shots of the red tail hawk!! Enjoy your weekend.

  11. Great bird shots and the one back in florida. Wonderfull.

  12. Great photos.
    It's early here, and I was just treated with a serenade from two barred owls hooting and whirring at each other. Wish I could catch them on camera!
    Please come link up at this week's Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday):

  13. I am always amazed to see songbirds attack the much larger birds of prey!
    Great photos!

  14. I really enjoyed this post, and your sequence of shots of the Blackbird and Hawk. Well done!! OH, and I like the Egret and Butterfly too.

  15. Wow, you got some excellent images! I really enjoyed them.

  16. The butterfly is stunning ad Hawk photos are amazing and the Egret's reflection is glorious.

  17. Interesting to see the hawk with that bit of greenery - I wonder how often something like that happens?

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. @Stewart-- I assumed that the hawk snagged some branches while pursuing the waxwing. It is a bit unusual for this large Buteo (Buzzard) to capture birds as small as the Cedar Waxwing. Its long and broad wings are not adapted for such prey items. Most of their diet consists of small mammals, such as rabbits, voles, squirrels etc., and a fair number of larger birds such as waterfowl, pheasants, quail, down to the size of a Rock Pigeon. However they have been known to take smaller birds such as jays and flickers, as well as reptiles and amphibians. They also can catch bats in flight by dipping into a dense swarm such as those departing from a cave, but lack the maneuverability to catch such small prey in flight. Since Cedar Waxwings often congregate in rather tightly packed flocks, often near the top of a tree, it is possible that this capture resulted when the Red-tail dived blindly into the flock, hence the by-catch of a bit of "salad."

  19. amazing photos of the hawk and lovely reflection with the egret

  20. Beautiful shots of the hawk ~ you blessed to have them near your house ~ Others 'critter shots' are divine also!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  21. Hello and good morning. Amazing action captures of the Redtailed hawk , close up, a stunning image too, and nicely captured images of the egret and butterfly.
    Regards from Portugal.

  22. Great Hawk photos! And stunning reflection photo of the Snowy Egret. (This weekend I realized what I've been calling Little Egrets were actually Snowy Egrets.)

  23. Hello Ken, I am stopping back to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy day and new week ahead!

  24. The the artful dodging in an ace bomber series.
    That close up of the hawk profile is like an acrylic painting....stunning.

    thank you for adding your link this week at I'd Rather B Birdin'

  25. Such amazing photos! Such drama with the hawks and the redwinged! Wow! I love this series!

  26. Really wonderful series of photos. I'm always amazed at the smaller birds going after the hawks!

  27. Terrific series of images, Ken! I'm always amazed at the smaller birds' bravery when attacking larger raptors.

    Love the Snowy reflection - in Florida no less!
    Welcome home, y'all!

  28. Fabulous images of the hawks! They're very handsome birds.

  29. Those hawks really did keep you entertained and you got some great shots. I always find it funny how small birds take on big ones and often scare them off.


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