Cherish is my favorite word, and I cherish the ability of turning the routine into a beautiful moment.
Nature creates in me, a spiritual and meditative time to bring peace, harmony and balance, into an otherwise ordinary day~
Mary Howell Cromer







Saturday, March 12, 2011

Copulation Behavior Observations~

After having been able to observe the same pair of Red-shouldered Hawks for over a decade, much has been gleaned, while other things remain a mystery and that is a good thing. For one thing, it has come to mind that most breeding sessions, copulation events occur between the hours of 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM. I myself have never observed them at any time later than this and due to our state moving clocks back in the fall and forward in the spring, making the daylight hours off bit on the clock anyway, this seems to be the norm.


My father-in-law lives inside the city limits in a nice compact high end residential area, whilst, I live in more of a rural, less populated wooded area...horse country, I like to say. In going into the "big city" to visit dad and having seen his Red-shouldered hawks on various occasions, I have noticed some interesting differences from the Tingsgrove area hawks. The pair in town hardly has any of the loud yelling vocalization to one another, and when they do, it is much softer sounding than our pair is. It has also been noted that it seems not to have a lot to do with the difference in land near a city, or not, just is different. Also noted the fledgling hawks from in the city are slimmer at the same period that our fledglings seem much larger. Hmm could be like country cooking for we humans, makes for a larger form...


On Tingsgrove the male will almost always present the female with a meal just before copulation takes place, or just immediately following. Copulation usually takes place within 4 acres from the selected nest site. Both adults will break off sprigs of greenery for a couple of reasons. It is a nice soft cushion to lay the eggs upon, as well as the hen will be on the nest for several weeks, and it will be better for her. Another reason for placing the greenery is to show any other nest takers, that the nest has been reserved already.


When the Tingsgrove pair copulates, there is much vocalization that takes place as her mate is flying to her and then during the sessions, there is great and boisterous noise that is quite recognizable to hear. While in the city yesterday, and observing a female on a utility wire, I was then quite surprised when out of no where, with no pomp and circumstance in flew the male, no gift in talon for his mate, only a very quiet copulation session upon the wire. He did sit and look adoring at her for a bit afterwards, but the Tingsgrove female is treated with at least a romantic meal for her time.


My 87 year old father-in-law happened to be riding in the car with me, and we had the windows down, and were pulled along side the road, just enjoying her beauty when this all took place and he said " I must say this has been fascinating ..." What else was there to say, it is as nature sings, and it is a sign of hope~























6 comments:

  1. Beautiful sequence Mary. It's not so easy to capture but you did it well. I've rarely seen copulation with birds. It happens time to time but not that often ;-)

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  2. That's brilliant, right on the ball. I love your photos, and your writing is extreme.

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  3. Super series of pictures Mary, and thanks for sharing that valuable expertise and unique observations with us. I wonder if the towny hawks are quieter because in a town that is more populated than the countryside they have to be careful not to draw attention to their pairing, nest and young? In the less populated countryside they can afford to be a bit more vocal?

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  4. Thank you so much Phil and you are so right about your own thoughts.
    We can only guess what the reasons would be and yet, I too thought that since surburban life is a much busier, louder pace than out here where we live, just maybe they need to keep it under control. They are a secretive creatures and this is one way to keep it that way~

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  5. Very seldom people get to see this.

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