Yesterday the Red Shouldered Hawk baby could be heard from my house, at least 1/4 mile from its nest in Cooper's Grove. It's getting very vigorous! I have in my bookshelf Life Histories of North America Birds of Prey by Arthur Cleveland Bent. The book is based on observations from the late 1800's and early 1900's. It is compiled from the reports of many dedicated observers, and the manuscript was finished in 1936. Thus, it is an interesting historical document that reveals much about past environments and attitudes of humans toward birds.
The section on the Nesting Habits of Red-Shouldered Hawks includes this passage:
I would like to see those old groves. I read recently that the precipitous demise of the passenger pigeon from sky-obscuring flocks requiring days to pass to complete extinction was brought about mostly by the destruction of the great Eastern hardwood forests.
The book from which the passage above is taken has many accounts of people shooting birds of all varieties, including this interesting story about shooting a swallow-tailed kite:
I think there were many more birds in general back then, so perhaps shooting them in order to admire them more closely did not seem in that context quite as insane as it does today.
I took a walk along the Joe Rodata trail with my friend Lindsey. Lindsey is an avid naturalist and tracker. We had a great time talking about the medicine wheel and many other topics. She is very tuned in to birds and pointed out the small sounds of the Spotted Towhee in the blackberry hedges, and the song of the Swainson's Thrush. "It harmonizes with itself," she pointed out. Listen here.
The St. John's Wort is in full flower along the trail with several very large patches. This one is mixed in with Teazel, a thistle with medicinal properties that is being used by Lyme patients.
A few other recent observations: Many small birds and mammals. Close call on the road last night with three separate fawns, one in Petaluma on I street and a pair on Robert's Road. A baby owl on Sonoma Mountain Road that flew away as the car approached. Lots of spiders in the house during the heat (a few in the bathtub every morning), and the orb weavers are really going at it in the garden. The cats are shedding hair by the handful. Several times when driving between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol recently I've seen a group of three White Herons flying in the vicinity of Highway 12 and Stony Point Road; yesterday I saw them over Oliver's Market. I wonder if in days gone by they might have been flying in large flocks. They are incredibly beautiful to watch. Michele and I saw one fly over Terra Firma Farm (in Petaluma) last night at dusk. We were there for a campfire talk given by Sal Gencarelle, a very fine teacher with deep knowledge of Lakota medicine ways. Michele and I were sitting facing a barn; a few minutes after the heron flew by a large owl came out the barn followed about 30 seconds later by another one. Their loud voices kept us company as Sal talked, along with several other night birds and some yipping that may have been foxes.
I should mention here that I was in Cooper's Grove on Saturday facilitating a Medicine Walk. The mosquitoes are already in decline. I heard one of the Red Shoulder Hawk babies still in the nest; I looked below the nest to see if the other one had fallen to its death like its sibling did two weeks ago, but I didn't see it. The Kites on the West edge of the Grove were very vocal, with two babies and the parents making a wider variety of vocalizations than I had heard before. They have a very sharp whistle followed by a cough.
This doe and her fawn hang out by the house. She's heavy with milk. The fawn has grown a lot but still has spots. There are two yearlings hanging around also, just off camera. The doe chases them away when they get too close. The face she's making is her menacing face as she runs toward one of them. They clear out expeditiously, running a short ways into the tall grass. The grass is tall enough that they pretty much disappear as soon as they are 8 or 10 There they bide their time and then try again about 10 minutes later.
The fawn keeps trying to nurse, but at least while I was watching mom was not allowing it. I think it's possible that the two yearlings are hers from last year, and they smell her milk and are trying to get to it. I say this because I was watching one of them approach her and it looked like it definitely had an agenda. It's the one that has what appears to be a cyst a bit larger than a golf ball hanging from its chest.
I noticed on my morning patrol of the Grove that the little ones in the Red Shouldered Hawk nest were very noisy, much more so than usual. And sounding pretty grown up also. It seems like it's been a couple of months since they hatched; I didn't record the exact date I first heard them as tiny birds screaming for food. I've been wondering when I'll start seeing them around the neighborhood as juveniles.
I had previously been unable to see the exact place where the nest is, so I took the time today to carefully circumambulate around the source of the sound, looking up frequently. I visited some places in the grove I had not yet seen...I'm always amazed at how I can find new places after four years of tending the place. Finally, after several distractions (very cute tiny deer tracks) I spotted the nest. I estimate it's about 120 feet above the ground. I decided to go the base of the tree and look on the ground, figuring I could observe what the ground under a hawk's nest looks like, and perhaps on future wanderings I would see something similar that would tip me off to other nests.
Amos Clifford, Guide and Restorative Council Mentor; trainer in restorative justice, restorative dialogue with nature, and circle-keeping and the way of council; mentor.