Thursday, March 6, 2008

I've Caught Birding Fever!

Today, I had a totally different post in mind. My girlfriend and I were going to do some pre-spring shopping and looking. We went to a plant nursery and gift shop to see what plants were in and what we could expect to find in a couple of months. I had done some research on the net and had pictures and names of different annuals I wanted to try. That is what I was going to tell you about...but I will save that for another day.

Instead, I am going to tell you about the Red Tailed Hawk. As we were on our way back to her house, we suddenly saw a man walking towards a pick up truck with a huge bird on his hand! I took a quick look in my rear view mirror and did a u-turn on the highway. I pulled my car off the road behind him just as he was about to put the bird back in her box. I said hello, and ask if I could have a picture. He smiled and said yes and brought her back onto his hand and held her out for me. I snapped one! I ask what kind of bird she was and he told me a "one-year Red Tailed Hawk". When I asked what he was doing, he told me he was a falconer and had her out hunting. He has her on a leash of sorts and walks in the brush and grasses along the railroad track kicking up rabbits and mice for her to catch. He is training her to hunt for herself so he can return her to the wild. He finds them when they are very young and raises them, teaching them to take care of themselves. When I asked why, he told me that so many of the hawks don't survive their first year in the wild and he is trying to increase the population in our area. He has successfully released several in the past few years. I told him I'd been seeing more hawks in the general area . Usually, I can see two or three on my twenty mile drive into Champaign. I always find them fascinating to see either in flight or sitting in a tree watching the ground for something to eat.
Again I asked if I could take another picture a little closer. He just kept smiling and said she would be fine. So I moved very carefully toward her taking more and more pictures, and trying not to startle her. I was so excited to be this close!

She was very patient with me, and only went to fly once!
Isn't she wonderful. I could really catch the birding fever! After thanking him and getting back into the car, I realized I had not even ask his name! I will the next time and I will be sure to thank him for what he is doing.. I really would like to know more about his efforts.
After dropping off my friend, I went back out to the Wet Land (I did a post on this area a short while back) area and realized it was just across the road from where he had had the hawk. I wonder if he is connected to the Wet Land project?
The birds are starting to use this spot. I saw Canadian Geese on a small pond and there was a pair of ducks that I couldn't see good enough to describe. And I saw Robins! My first sighting this year. Spring really is coming.

And, my doves are coming back. I hadn't seen too many this winter. But under the feeder this morning there they were.

It was such a good day!


gintoino said...

WOW! Aren't birds of prey the most wonderful animals? I used to work in a zoo a few years ago and managed to see a few up close. They are beautiful creatures! How lucky or you to pas by the moment the falconer was there.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a treat to get so close to a RTHA. WOW I hope you do get bird fever. It would be nice to have someone else in the family as crazy about birds as I am.

This time of year we go to wet areas like this at dusk to see and hear the American Woodcock do their mating call and flight. You could do that sometime in the near future. It is an awesome sight and sound. Something primal almost unearthly sounding.

rose said...

Your pictures turned out great! I was happy you included the falconer's explanation of her, because I wasn't close enough to him to hear how and why he had caught her.
Our meeting with the falconer was truly an example of serendipity--one of my favorite words and an inspiration for a blog I might write. You've opened the world of blogging to me and I might become as addicted as you are!

beckie said...

Gintoino, they are truly magnificent!

Lisa, I don't now that I will ever be as knowledgeable as you!! I will have to look up the Woodcock to see what it looks like and what it sounds like...would be fun. Have a great time in Indy.

Rose, Good for you!! It is a great way to meet and interact with wonderful people. And it is FUN. But be careful it is addictive.

Cheryl said...

So totally be that close to a Hawk...I am a bird fanatic, to have done that would be magic. Wasn't he a stunning bird to. Lovely post Beckie....going back to look at pics again.

Mel said...

WOW! That's sooo cool! (says Mel turning green of envy... hahahaha)

Mary said...


Oh-Oh. Now you are hooked. You are so LUCKY to be so close to a beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk! It was worth the U-turn wasn't it? LOL!

Thanks for sharing this story. I would have LOVED to have been there.


Kylee said...

What a gorgeous bird! I have to be sure and show this to Romie. He loves hawks. I saw two red-tails last week on my way to work (two different locations, not together). Lucky you, to get to see one that close-up!