People get all fired up about birds – especially of the rare and predatory variety.
We zone in on them with binoculars, photograph them, chart their movements, wait for them … and basically can get as all giddy as kids in a candy store when a hawk or osprey or blue heron shows up in our neighborhood.
I mean, really, the national emblem of the United States features a bald eagle.
New York City has been going all gaga since the early 1990s following the red-tailed hawk, Pale Male, and his various mates who roost and make babies in a nest on the ledge of an apartment building across the street from Central Park in Manhattan.
(A red-tailed hawk that meets with good fortune can live for 20 years or more.)
Pale Male and his gal pals and their babies (a baby hawk is called an “eyas”) have been featured in periodical print story after print story, film documentaries, books, and in song.
Pale Male is even the mascot of a P.S. 6, an elementary school in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Gotta love hawks.
So here we have a hawk family story in our midst – and a fun one.
Melody – “Mel” – is the popular bartender at up at Five Corners. In August, Mel will mark her 15th year mixing drinks, pulling drafts, pouring libations, delivering superb customer service, and engaging in high octane chat and gabbing.
Mel has herself a loyal following.
Mel lives in a home she owns in Bridgewater. She enjoys and is dedicated to gardening and home improvement, and she is always creating and cultivating her mini backyard Shangri-La of gardens, pruned shrubs, paved walkways, and a fish pond (stocked primarily with koi).
Over the years, and it continues – on and off – the backyard is a hotspot and favorite meeting place for birds – woodpeckers, humming birds, blue herons, cardinals, bluebirds … you name it.
And now … now …. yes, now ... hawks.
(By the way, Easton has a special affection for hawks – with our Hawks, and our Skyhawks.)
“It was near the end of April, and Steve [Mel’s longtime best pal] came in the house and said he just saw a hawk,” said Mel. “I went outside and I saw the hawk as well – and then a little later that day I saw a second hawk; they were together perched in a tree in the yard.”
By the end of the day, Steve had discovered that the hawks had taken residence in the yard; they had a nest about 45 feet up in the “V” of a tree – as hawks do – that was about 150 feet removed from the house.
“I needed to get pictures of the hawks,” said Mel. “And, I even upgraded my camera – I bought a new one – that had a better zoom and which allowed me to focus in better, and to get better pictures of the hawks wherever they were – in the nest or in flight or perched, as they do, in various places throughout the yard.”
What Mel and Steve started to wonder, and with two hawks hanging out and making a home in that tree was … and this wonder is only natural … is this a gal and a guy who are starting a family?
Mel trained that camera on that nest, trying to pick up evidence of “little ones.”
Mel snapped some awesome photos of the adult hawks.
But no babies showed up.
Perhaps these two weren’t mates. Maybe they were just guy pals, or gal pals. Maybe it was a male-female couple that was not the parent type.
Then came this past Monday.
“I was taking photos of the nest, snapping one shot after another,” said Mel. “So, after shooting the photos, I started going through them on the camera; you know, pulling them up and then zooming in to see what I had – and then ... whoah ... I saw them; there they were in the nest, the babies – and it seemed they were looking right at me.”
For sure – and please see the attached photos – those baby hawks seem intensely focused – and with their fluffy ivory colored fur and big charcoal colored eyes, they are a bit intergalactic alien in appearance.
Mel is all excited and enthused about her new tenants.
“The babies obviously can’t fly yet, but the adults seem very relaxed and confident,” said Mel, “and they fly over the yard, and perch on various places throughout the property.”
What “type” of hawks have moved in to Mel’s place?
Not sure. I was up at Maguire’s the other night with my laptop – and Mel and I were looking at the photos of various hawks (there might be as many as 17 to or 18 types of hawks in North America), and we started thinking that she had Cooper’s hawks chilling in that nest.
Any hawk experts out there? Photos are attached. A little help?
No matter the type of hawk family that has joined Mel’s home, she is thrilled and appreciative to have it settled in.
Although, for sure, a growing family is a hungry family – and hawks are expert and effective hunters, or “raptors” as they are sometimes called.
They eat rodents, small rabbits, lizards and snakes, small to medium size birds, and sometimes fish.
Mel says that her koi population is down from last year, but she doubts that the hawks are primarily the reason.
“If a heron or other bird is hunting in a koi pond then you know it,” said Mel. “Because, normally, the koi and other fish are swimming around and eager and near the surface when you get near the pond, because they are looking to get fed. But if a predator has been around, they stay hidden. As for now, the fish are out looking for food when I walk near the pond.”
Mel’s affection for the hawks though does have its limits.
Says Mel, “If I start noticing the other birds aren’t coming around as much, well, I might need to rethink things.”
Ah, something says that those hawks at Mel’s place are loving life, and they are in it and deeply entrenched and settling in for the long haul.
They aren't going anywhere.