a shoulder above
The rainy season still reigns in the Everglades. Water is high and so is the mosquito population. Nevertheless, my husband and I drove out to Everglades National Park in search of wildlife. While there, we spotted several Red-Shouldered Hawks–from within the protective microfiber and fine mesh of our Bug Shirts .
I can’t say enough about this shirt. Without it I never could have gotten these photos. I spotted the first hawk of the morning near Pay-hay-okee. It soared across the road in front of our car to perch high on a cypress tree where it scanned the watery sawgrass below for prey. Despite the strong eastern backlighting, I captured this shot.
My second hawk of the day, found in the same area, eyed me carefully as I inched within shooting distance. I wondered if this bird was a female, in that lady Red-shouldered Hawks are larger than their mates.
Once again on the main park road, we headed toward Flamingo. There I spied this elegant bird busily grooming its feathers. Interrupted by my presence, it stopped leaving its rusty red shoulder feathers in full view.
The Florida subspecies of Red-shouldered Hawk has slightly paler head and breast-markings than those found in other Eastern states or California. The photo that appears at the top of this post is of the fourth hawk of the morning. While I observed it, I could hear its mate-for-life calling from a nearby tree. Sure enough, within minutes he took to the air to join her.
I tried to follow them, but the trees were too dense for me to see the devoted couple. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks nest near our home. We frequently hear them calling “kee-aah” to each one and watch them follow their mate from tree to tree. Devoted parents, these hawks share nest tending and nestling feeding duties. The placement of their large sharpsighted brown eyes affords them excellent depth perception. Add to that a needle-pointed beak and beautiful broad wings stretching to 100 cm, and you have a exquisitely capable bird of prey. I would say they are a shoulder above their peers, wouldn’t you?
Note: You can see a photo of an immature Red-shouldered Hawk on my Grassy Waters post.