Chicken Hawks?

Leon Hale just posted a blog entry on hawks…Chicken Hawks Inside The Loop

A life-and-death bird drama is going on out there right now. Half a dozen pigeons are dipping and climbing and wheeling in a desperate way near our building . I’ve learned that this is how they behave when a hawk comes around. This time of year big hawks are fairly common inside the Loop.

I think the one I see most often is a red-tailed hawk, but I’m not certain. We’ve got a lot of hawks in Texas and I’m not wonderful at identifying them. In my early times in the country we called any big hawk a chicken hawk. (That term has evolved to have an interesting meaning in political discourse, as you’ll see if you check out that link.)
If a hawk was big enough to swoop down and get a full grown Domineker hen, we said it was a chicken hawk.

Reading his post reminded me that I had taken some shots of a hawk in a tree down at the entry to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge back before Christmas. I thought I had posted the photos on one of my blogs, but hey, I can’t find them so maybe not. So just cause I was reminded here is a front and back shot of the same bird from Dec 22.

In trying to ID this hawk from my Peterson’s Birds of Texas, the closest I can come is to guess it’s a Red Shouldered though it bears some resemblance to a Swainson’s. If someone can give me a positive ID it would be appreciated.

This fellow(?) was nice enough to sit for quite a while and let me snap away out the window of the car.

One of the things I really like about this part of Texas is that during the winter we get quite a few of the northern hawks visiting for a few months. Not that there is ever a time when we don’t have numerous hawks and buzzards flying around. But during this time of the year, you’ll see hawks setting in the tops of trees, on telephone poles, even on fence posts.

When we first moved to this place the field that is our backyard would get pretty grown up during the summer. At some point I had stuck a tree limb in the ground that stood up about 10 feet tall (3m for those from across the pond). Regularly we would look out to see a Red Tail sitting on the top of the limb. I am sure the field was a haven for mice and rabbits so he was just shopping for his supper.

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2 Replies to “Chicken Hawks?”

  1. I would guess it’s a red-shoulder. They have a delicate *look* in their eye – that’s how I know them. So much for the field marks in the ID books, I know!

  2. Thanks for the ID Laura.

    I was sitting out yesterday in the field we call our backyard watching a number of red tails playing in the trees along the fence row on the other side of the neighbors place. I don’t know what they were doing over there, cause I didn’t bring the glasses out. More than likely they were doing just what I was…Enjoying the sun.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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