I’m being watched…

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I was out behind the garage last December early one morning, clanking around getting ready to drag the trash bin to the street. I turned around and something caught my eye… this guy was sitting on top of our basketball hoop, not 20 feet away from me. I think he’s a Harris hawk - notable as they are one of the few birds of prey which hunt cooperatively. This was one of four which we had seen around the neighborhood last fall. We once watched them hunt as a team, which is remarkable as they take turns sharing their catch – one will hold the victim in a talon and one or more will eat, then they switch off.

In any event, he (or she) was watching me closely but clearly didn’t see me as a threat. I slowly backed into the garage, then ran to grab my camera and threw on a 270mm zoom lens. He had the patience to wait around for me to snap five or six quick shots, then bored with my presence, lazily took flight. What a magnificent bird! I estimate he stood at least a foot or more tall and had an impressive wingspan. There are lots of quail, small desert bunnies, pigeons and other birds around for them to feed on, and they have adapted well to life in the middle of 3 million-plus people.

Our dog Pi doesn’t care much for them though. If she sees them perched around the back yard she will bark hysterically – she has a remarkable sense for things out of the ordinary and lets us know it. She once saved us from a baby rattlesnake that somehow got into our dining room, but that’s another story. Several weeks after this photo the dog called me out back and I saw another hawk – or maybe the same one – sitting on the chimney of the neighbor’s house. Unfortunately that one didn’t wait around for me to get my camera… but I’m glad this one did. It’s a great photo!

One Response to “I’m being watched…”

  • Joan:

    That is a great photo. I love hawks – watching them raise their families – the males often have two families with the nests fairly close together, and it really keeps them going to get food for the mom and babies. The babies are hilarious when they are learning to fly, and they love to play. The babies from both nests play together. This picture brought back happy memories of hawk-watching. Thanks

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