I bought a camera with a telephoto lens to spy on my neighbors. But my pictures were a little blurry, so I bought a tripod mount. Then the springtime leaves on the live oak tree grew thicker and greener and blocked my view. I’d get a drone but I think the neighbors would rip it out of the sky. Especially the guy. He’s one hell of a hunter.
I’m talking about the mated pair of Red-shouldered hawks who built a nest fifty feet up the tree growing over the top of the Roughdraft Cabin.
And now he’s got more mouths to feed. Two days ago I heard the whistling of fledglings and grabbed my binoculars and, sure enough, I saw two white fuzzy heads bobbing around just above the edge of the nest. The field guide says there could be as many as four in a single hatching.
In one day last week I watched him bring in two squirrels and a snake. The male gets the groceries and brings them to the missus, i learned from Google, then takes a turn tending the kids while she eats.
I watched her take her meal to a branch in the next tree. But it was quick. She takes her job seriously and will spend most of her time close with her babies for the next three weeks. The kids will live at home for a month, or six weeks, and even then won’t go far. The parents will keep feeding them for up to two months.
Today, the papa was being a little lazy, and dropped right out of the tree and onto a bluebird condo just down the hill by the water’s edge. Landed with wings wide-spread, squarely on top of the yellow three-room house that hangs suspended on a curved metal rod. The bluebirds weren’t at home, but showed up almost immediately, keeping to the nearby bushes to raise a ruckus at the home invasion in progress. The hawk bounced and jostled the birdhouse. Then sat on top of it waiting.
Nothing happened and he moved to a nearby burn pile and perched on a broken picnic table, hoping something would emerge from the brush underneath him. I know—and he probably does, too—that a snake or two lives there. They’ve come slithering out when the grass is cut. Not today.
Then my little dog Bobby showed up. Wanted to see what I was watching so intently from behind the trunk of the live oak. Bobby saw the hawk right away. And the hawk saw him.
Bobby stood stock still facing the hawk. This’ll be a good picture, I thought, and got on my knees to shoot from a better angle. The iPhone would have to do, since it was on hand, and the hawk might leave the scene. My attention was on the phone screen until Bobby made a move to go see the hawk. I snapped out of paparazzi mode and reverted to my role as Bobby’s macho-manly bodyguard by shouting, “Bobby, no!”
My little dog looked over his shoulder at me, like, are you crazy. Ain’t no bird gonna mess with me. And, ordinarily, I’d agree. But this guy was having an off day. And there was a handy answer to food for the
whole family, right there in black and white, enough to last for days.
Or was it me the hawk was looking at? I’ve been keeping up a racket for some three or four days now building a stage directly underneath his nursery nest. Let’s see…where’d I put my hardhat, Bobby?