Friday, August 03, 2007

How a single bird changed my day

I was grouchy today. I had nowhere to go, and the girls were in Hyper-Crazy-Annoying Mode.
I putzed around the house, did some laundry, until I couldn't stand it anymore. I got shoes for everyone and got in the car. I needed to see a bird. A different bird than what was out at the feeders. I pointed the car towards Blanchester, and headed down Rt. 28, a long, straight and flat stretch of road. I was hoping for a glimpse of a hawk, and I have seen them along 28 before.

As if Fate had lined it all up for me, I saw one.
A red-tailed hawk, perched on a phone line.
I pulled a mean, a U-Turn, and stopped right under where it was sitting.

Gorgeous face for a bird
Since hawks can see everything that is going on, I expected to maybe get one good shot before it flew away. But I got many shots. Many.
Look at that gorgeous face. Proud, fierce, haunting.
Can I help you
"Yes? Can I help you?"

RT front view
I couldn't believe it just sat there as I fired the shutter over and over. I got lost in the subtle rusty streaks and the not-so-subtle deep brown belly band. Brown birds? Please. Ever wonder if they are as soft as they look? Well, yes and no. The flight feathers are stiff, as they need to be, but the contour feathers of the body are silky. And those gray eyes.
This is an adult bird, though not too old, I think. Old enough to have a full red tail (they get this in their second to third year) but young enough to still have relatively light eyes. It's not a precise science, but typically, their eyes darken as they age.

Why do I get so ga-ga about red-tails? They make me think of my Dad. He showed me my first red-tail...I remember standing on the sidewalk in front of their house, and Dad pointed up at a large bird circling above. He said, "See the red shining through? That's why they are called red-tailed hawks." I was blown away; not just because this beautiful bird was soaring right above us, but because my DAD knew what the heck it was!

So, I thought I was pretty lucky to get some shots of this hawk just sitting on the light pole. And then it took off, flew over the car, and landed in a culvert on the other side of the car.
And it had dinner...
A nice fresh meadow vole? Or one honkingly big mouse?
Whatever it was, I got to watch it being eaten. Lorelei was asleep, but I showed the picture to Isabelle, and she said, and I quote: "Oooh....that's a nice, big, fat, juicy mouse! Good hawk!"
That's my offspring for you...cares that the bird gets to eat.
Talons and tail
After eating, it hop-flew up to a sign and I got a nice long look at the red on the tail and those seriously awesome talons. So what if they are the most numerous and widespread hawk on the continent? So what if you can see one on just about any highway?
They're just GD fantastic.
And this pose is pretty close to the one on my own personal Zickefoose.
Needless to say, my mood was much improved by this encounter.

In honor of my post yesterday, here's a picture of our famous Goetta:
The package on the left is Glier's...the largest producer of Goetta. Anywhere. If you are nice to me, I will send you some for Christmas.


The Swami said...

Whooa. I was reading your blog too quickly. At first I thought that the word above the photo of the hawk eating the mouse was: Goetta, instead of Gotcha.

My first thought was that you had discovered the secret ingredient that gives goetta its, shall I say, unique flavor!


Mary C said...

What a beautiful bird, uh, raptor! It doesn't matter how common they are - they are still beautiful to watch whether it's in action or just sitting on a pole. Great shots, Susan.

Lynne said...

RTH is my fave! Yours is beautiful- lots more streaky than what I've seen lately.

BTW- How's Earl?

NatureWoman said...

Cooooool Susan!!! That hawk was just waiting for you yesterday, a gift just for you, for sure. Memories, it is the memories of our Dads that get us through, isn't it? And you got to see the hawk eat, too. How awesome is that?

Mary said...

Cool bewd, Susan. Very beautiful! I've never been lucky enough to get so close. Glad you got out and found something exciting.

Q said...

Dear Susan,
I so understand the way a fine bird can take our breath away! Your Red Tailed Hawk time is the kind of bird and human encounters I love. Being with them as they live their lives in harmony, eating, sleeping being the Hawks they are! So up close! Wow.
Sometimes I too venture out.
One bird can change my mood too!

Dave said...

Red Tails are not that common up here. An old timer like me still oh's and ahh's when we get to see one. :)