Feathers of a Red-Shouldered Hawk from January 21, all that remained after the Great Horned Owl attack~
It has been a few weeks since I first began to wonder about something and I have not wanted to share until I was absolutely certain. Some of you will recall the deep sadness that I shared with you in the blog post about how a Great Horned Owl took a Red-tailed Hawk and a Red-shouldered Hawk from my yard in less than 5 hours on January 21. Due to the fact that the adult pair were still around next day, and the fact that the only thing that remained of a Red-shouldered Hawk was a pile of very few feathers. I had assumed that it was thus the single young juvie from last years breeding season.
During the recent breeding season, I became somewhat encouraged about a young hawk that kept appearing in the skies above the grove. It was quite curious to me and I wondered at first if the hen had taken a new mate, and that possibly her mate had also been taken by the Great Horned Owl after the big attacks from January, or possibly some other means.
It took patience for me to be able to come to the conclusions that I can now share with you. I had to wait until I could get close enough to the nest tree and know that the hen would not abandon her eggs. She is the exact same hen that I have been watching since 1996...no doubt about it! Her mate is the same one that I have seen her with for many years of being able to view him as well. Then there is the young juvie that flies over Tingsgrove, that will sometimes fly with it's mother and I am delighted to share that the young one was not the Red-shouldered hawk killed on the grove that day after all.
Last Thursday and again yesterday something quite alarming was taking place around 1:00 PM both days.
Both of the adults had left the nest site in broad daylight and were on Tingsgrove yelling at something with great agitation, panting, and dive bombing something in the trees on the grove. I took some distant images and then left to get to the nest site, some 3 acres walk away...no adult on the nest. What would make them both leave so abruptly...I could not see, but after what seemed forever, the hen finally flew back to her nest and eggs.
These images were taken last Thursday when the two adult hawks were aggressively going after something on the grove, right outside our home and nearly 3 full acres from the nest tree~
Then, yesterday, the exact same scenario played out...loud and boisterous, frightening at times. Loud yells coming from the woods nearby. It appeared that a single hawk was yelling over and over again from the east of me and viewing the nest to the north and in front of me. I could hear Red-shouldered hawks yelling from the west of me as well. It appeared to me that the nest had no adult on it at first, and thus when two hawks appeared from my left flying toward the nest, I never even thought to take a photo, for I thought they would land and I would then get some captures, yet they flew over the nest and then out of no where, from the nest flew the male, who evidently was there all the while and hunkered down low to protect the delicate eggs.
What was going on then...I could now see to the east several hawks yelling and flying from branch to branch looking down and quite upset about something in the trees below. I made my way through the heavy brush and woods and then I saw it. A Great Horned Owl was in a cedar tree and guess who was right above it, yelling to beat the band, none other than the gloriously beautiful juvie from last season. The one that I had seen soaring along side it's mother... It is in fact very much alive.
These images appear to be the juvie from last season. In two of the images it is relentless it it's yelling at the Great Horned Owl~
The above images show a very agitated hen and once she arrived back at the nest site, she was still quite alarmed~
Yesterday there were five Red-shouldered, maybe even six at times flying over and all were going after the Owl. What could this mean...possibly the group also included the two chicks from 2009...the basket and the nest chick... Which one then was taken on January 21, we shall never know.
The Great Horned Owl has taken a small Cotton tailed bunny and both the Crows and the Hawks were in pursuit~
What I am sure of is that the Great Horned Owls are still around, they are hunting during the day and the Red-shouldered Hawks are at their most vulnerable while on the nest. During the day, the hen will no doubt get all of the help she can handle, yet during the night, I can only pray she survives yet another season with raising the young I have grown to love watching take place here on Tingsgrove and beyond~
These images are a calmer time late yesterday afternoon of the hen watching her nest in protect~
Tomorrow, if not already, the first chick should break out of it's shell and then the long 6 to 8 week process begins. The nest is not real large...notice the plastic bag that once again the hen has chosen to use in her nesting materials. The nest is a bit lop-sided as well and it shall be a long few weeks, and with the concern always of a chick falling, or the presence of the Great Horned Owls, I still remain hopeful~