2020: Birds in a Tree

Today, I was going to write about crafting. The topic was inspired by my own increase in crafting this year – fabric face mask, a quilt, more jewelry (which I’ve done since 2008), and of course, crafting with words – poems, essays, prose, etc. My husband has also increased his crafting, making custom furniture and other pieces as he desires. He gifted me one of his beautiful segmented bowls this morning. It is my second such piece and now is adorning a table in our living room. Our sons are also crafters and very creative. They also increased their production this year – one, our youngest, to the point of making a very comfortable living off of his art!

But, mid-morning, I decided that I would write about the birds that sit in a large tree – I’m ashamed to not know what kind – in the dry creek bed (a tributary of Half-way Creek) next to our house. Today, I looked up from my desk to see a very large hawk perched high up in this tree. It is a popular spot with our local birds of prey. Occasionally, we even have a bald eagle or two perched there surveying the surrounding fields.

Bald Eagle sitting in the same tree as the hawk in November 2020. © Carol Labuzzetta.

I have trouble identifying anything other than a mature bald eagle when they birds are sitting in this tree. The hawks are a mystery to me. All I know is that they are hawks. I do know which types of hawk’s are common here, as well. But, how to tell which is which is a mystery to me….especially when I am photographing from a long ways away. Before looking at any reference books my top guesses were:

Cooper’s Hawk

Red tailed Hawk and the

Red shouldered Hawk

But, then I looked at a book and thought a Northern Harrier (formerly known as Marsh Hawk) was a good fit. It was strange to me that this reference book listed neither the Cooper’s Hawk or Red Tailed Hawk.

Next, I posted to an online naturalist group for our state, to which I belong. I’ve gotten great results from posting to their page before, so I thought I’d try that again. After just a few minutes, I started to get some answers. What I saw this morning is a Red-tailed Hawk. Several people identified as such, with one of the most convincing posts listing why they identified the bird as being this species.

Last, I confirmed their entry with going to the Audubon website. Sure enough, the description fit my photographs and the bird’s behavior.

Personally, throughout this year, I’ve found a good way to learn new native species of plants or animals is to take a photograph of it. The action of doing so helps me to “lock in” to my memory the details of the species – its habitat, range, characteristics, etc.

So, next week or maybe, even, next year when this hawk shows up, I can recall – this is a Red-tailed Hawk. Repeat exposure to anything new is a great way to learn more about it in detail. I got a new journal for a Christmas present. I was going to try bullet journalling. But, perhaps, a page on each of these observations of native plants and animals will have to be made as well.

It’s always a good day to learn!

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