This past July I had an accidental encounter with a pair of young hawks, who I believe were siblings. I had just tucked all my camera equipment away when I noticed a very large fluffy lump on the grass. I was in the parking lot of Lambert Castle, which is terraced above the lawn, so it was a level below me. I crouched down to see what it was. That was when I realized it was a Red-Tailed Hawk, awkwardly strutting around on the ground. Cursing my luck for putting the camera away so nicely ten minutes earlier, I rushed to my trunk to put my lens back on the camera. The Hawk didn’t seem to notice my movement in the slightest. So far, so good. I got a few photos from where I was, still with the Hawk not even seeming to notice me. So I decided to test my luck and I made my way to the stairs for the lower level.
I approached the stairs slowly and took a few more photos. The Hawk still seemed completely oblivious to my existence. So I continued down the stairs. I used the fountain as a blind to get even closer to the Hawk undetected. It finally did seem to notice me, and hopped up on the wall. I decided to continue trying my luck, and I slowly approached the wall, staying far enough away not to really panic it. The Hawk decided to show off, turning around in slow circles, so we had ourselves a little photo-shoot. At this point I knew I had tons of photos, so with nothing to lose, I began to slowly walk closer.
That was when the Hawk decided it had had enough of me. Off he flew. I kept my eye on him, figuring he would head for the trees, way up on the mountain. Instead he headed for a tree at the other side of the lawn, so I decided to follow for some “Hawk in tree” photos. I approached the tree at a slow walk, keeping my eye out for him as he wandered around the branches. I noticed he had very quickly ended up on the opposite side of the tree. But nope… there he was on the lower branch he had flown too….oh my, two of them!
While they were in the tree I was able to get a very close look at their bodies and it was then that I determined they both had enough downy white belly fuzz that they were probably both juveniles, probably siblings, rather than parent and child.
Eventually I decided I had been bothering them enough and I walked off. I didn’t make it to my car before the two of them whistled at each other and then flew to a telephone pole in the parking lot. So I swung my camera around again and decided to take some photos of the two of them together. It was then that the most amazing thing happened. They were seated on two tiers of the same telephone pole. The lower bird turned its head, saw its companion’s tail feathers and chomped down! He held on for a few minutes before he finally decided to let go.
They then proceeded to turn toward the trees on the ledge above the parking lot, calling expectantly up. My guess is that they had been permitted a small excursion as a learning experience, but now they were done exploring and playing and expected their parents to fly down and collect them. Right now! When I finally got tired of waiting for something to happen and headed back to my car they were still sitting there, anxiously watching the treeline.