Two weeks ago, upon returning from my training in Brunswick, GA, I looked out the window of my home which faces my backyard. I was checking to make sure my yard guy had taken good care of my lawn in my absence. I noticed some sort of movement in the far-right corner of my acre lot. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I was curious nonetheless.
A couple of hours later, I took my recyclables out to my Toter® roll-away Recycle Can when I noticed a very large bird, a hawk I thought to myself, perched on the chain link fence about ten feet away from where I had seen something earlier in the day. I stood there watching it for about 30 seconds before it flew away.
Fast-forward to today. I woke up fairly early for a Sunday morning and decided I was going to be productive today. The morning was bright and sunshiny and the temperature was a delicious 68°F.
The plan was to wash my windows. I started in the backyard. I had washed two windows and was beginning to work on the third. I was safely ensconced on the step ladder under the easement when I heard a frantic flapping going on behind me.
Making certain not to turn too quickly (Safety First!), I turned to see this hawk (?) on the ground no more than 10 or so feet from me on the ground. It was wrestling furiously with a snake.
I have lived in this home for 40+ years and never once saw a snake. I judged the snake to be about 5-feet long. Quicker than you could say, “Rumplestiltskin”, the bird had muscled the snake into its talons in a vise-like death grip and took flight. The snake was wriggling to get loose. It was a bad day for Mr. Water Moccasin.
Bad day for the snake, good day for me because I never saw it. I could have stepped on that sucker, gotten bitten and, well…
I collected myself after that Animal Planet episode and finished washing all my windows. I came inside and fixed myself a sammich and a bowl of Caramel Cookie Crunch gelato.
I went outside to store my step ladder in the shed when, what did I spy, but the very same hawk from this morning. I tippy-toed backwards to go inside and grab my camera. I just knew it would be gone when I came back out, but I was wrong.
It sat perched on a big, fat branch and posed real pretty for me. I had to snap several shots because I was shaking so bad. I wanted to share its beauty with everybody.
Once I downloaded the pics and settled on the one shown here, I researched raptors and found that the bird is indeed a hawk; a red-shouldered hawk, in fact.
According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it’s one of the most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. (The Cornell Lab doesn’t mention this, but it’s legs are a lemon yellow.) In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.
The National Geographic Society notes that red-shouldered hawks return to the same nesting territory year after year.
If this bird has a nest nearby or it has built a nest in the many trees on my property then it can help me control the ground squirrel population. Oh, did I mention I despise the little vermin?
So, now I have a family of bluebirds who have established a cozy little residence in the birdhouse I put up last year. When they leave, then the darling, little Carolina Wrens move in and set up house.
Life is good and I thank the Lord for His blessings.