At this particular time of year as I sit at my desk in the early morning in the Howe Building at Perkins, I love to feel a sunbeam warming the side of my face. I only notice it in mid to late summer, when the seasonal alignment of earth and sun are just right. Something else I notice at this time of year are the begging sounds of what I believe to be juvenile Red-tailed Hawks. If you spend much time at Perkins, you have probably heard them too.
Although red-tails leave the nest 6 weeks after they are hatched, it takes them 3 years to reach maturity, and much of that time is spent learning to become adept predators. They live mainly on small rodents. When rodents are not plentiful, hawks sometimes have a very difficult time finding enough to eat.
Hawks are often heard and seen on campus, because a family of them are nesting high up on the tower at the Howe Building. They tend to use the same nest year after year, making repairs to it as needed. I hear them often, but in my three years at Perkins, I have not yet heard the typical majestic cry “keeeeer”* of the adult red-tail. Have you heard it?
Red-tailed hawks, which used to be commonly known as chickenhawks, weigh from 1.5 to 3.5 pounds. They can be two feet long with more than a 4-foot wingspan, and females tend to be larger than males. Red-tails can live 20 years or longer, and they tend to be monogamous.
I invite you to comment on this article. What are your thoughts about hawks and other birds of prey?
*Sound clips thanks to SoundBible.com!