a shoulder above

Red-Shouldered hawk on Cypress

Red-Shouldered Hawk on Cypress

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 .

Karen in her Bug Shirt

Karen in her Bug Shirt

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.

First Hawk of the Morning

First Hawk of the Morning

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.

Eyes on You

Eyes on You

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.

Deadwood Perch

Deadwood Perch

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.

Flight of Love

Flight of Love

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.

One thought on “a shoulder above

  1. Karen, Thanks for visiting my blog, Your bird images are beautiful, I too love ENP there is always some thing to shoot there. I went there a couple of weeks ago for the clouds, didn’t have a bug shirt (my next purchase) and left quickly. I’m sure KCC will have a field trip there as soon as it cools down. If you haven’t seen this blog check it out, great wildlife; http://walkthewilderness.blogspot.com/

    I saw that Diane Varner of Daily Walks left you a comment on your profile, she is one of my favorite photographers.

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