Posted by: atowhee | March 4, 2008

Red-shouldered and full-throated


The hawk picture is by Scott Bowers.  You can find his excellent nature photography online.

When I lived in San Francisco the piercing scream of a Red-shouldered Hawk was a regular feature of city birding.  In any season.  Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, Lake Merced.  Wherever trees and Rock Pigeons congregate there would be at least one Red-shouldered territory.  More than once I saw the stocky little buteo making a meal of some tough urban rat.

Here in the Rogue Valley the Red-shouldered is not common, the population modest. They’re certainly not the daily presence of the bigger Red-tailed Hawks or American Kestrel in the grasslands.  The RS’s range touches only this little part of southwestern Oregon and up along the coastal plain about one-third of the way from California toward the mouth of the Columbia.  So ’twas a welcomed sound to hear one screaming from a treetop along Route 99 in south Talent around noon.  I hope he or she finds a mate, then raises a whole nest full of young rat-catchers.  Some taxonomists suggest these Pacific Coast Red-shouldereds will eventually be split from their more plentiful and widespread eastern cogeners. 

It was cold, gray and uninviting weather this morning so few birds showed up on Bear Creek Greenway: Scrub-jay, Robin, several Lesser Goldifnches with their own plumage providing a glint of sunshine yellow, Spotted Towhee, three Mourning Doves drooped over a leafless limb.  Passing against the overhead pewter curtain: at least fifteen Tree Swallows. Glad to see them as last night my wife spotted our first mosquito of the season. 

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