Not Quite Ready for Valentine's Day

by Dan Weisz

I have had a very busy week birding with visiting relatives and photographing many of the birds we came across.  Because of that, I’ve been processing and sending out a large number of photos.  After one or two more e-mails, I should be done and back to my regular once-or-twice weekly schedule.  Thanks for letting me share these with you!

Last Sunday, two days before Valentine’s Day, I came across that Red-tailed Hawk couple along River Road once again.  They never fail to please me.  I invite you to share in the commentary below.  So what happened was…..

First I saw the female sitting on a pole staring towards the east and I stopped to take some pictures.  Her perch seemed like an unusual one considering the better option atop the pole.  It looks like her crop is bulging (just below her neck).  I assume she has recently eaten and still has plenty of food to last her awhile.  That crop serves as a kind of “doggy bag” storying food until there is room in her stomach to digest more.  Perhaps that had something to do with the following events.

Within a few minutes, the male redtail flew by and landed on a pole across the field from the female.  He perched, alternately staring right at her and then looking to the side.
(What do you think was on his mind?  Insert your own dialogue here:  “ - - - - - - - - “.)

Suddenly, he took off flying low to the ground and disappeared behind the tall grass.  He returned to his perch with a prize in his possession and stared directly towards the female.  Here he is ready to take off again.
(Insert your own dialogue here:  “ - - - - - - - - “.)

He flew towards his mate, prized possession in his talons and focused on his objective.
(Insert your own dialogue here:  “ - - - - - - - - “.)

But here’s where things took a sudden turn.  Either he messed up his landing, or she had other things in mind.  The female dipped her head to avoid her incoming mate.  He slowed down using his tail for a brake and grabbed onto one of her wings awkwardly…..
(Insert your own dialogue here:  “ - - - - - - - - “.)

and then he continued flying past her without stopping.  I’m not sure how to interpret the look in either hawks’ face.
(Insert your own dialogue here for both birds:  “ - - - - - - - - “.)

The male flew off and never returned.  Shortly afterwards, the female flew across the field and landed in a nearby palm tree.  She seemed to be looking in the general direction the other hawk had flown.
(Insert your own dialogue here:  “ - - - - - - - - “.)

And then flew off in the same general direction the other hawk had flown.

And as far as I know, that was the end of the story, or at least the end of the chapter I was privileged to witness.

To be continued????  I hope so.