June 22, 2012

Summer Days....continued

I love to get outside this time of year. There is just so much to see, and enjoy! So yesterday morning (Monday) I went out to get the horses in, and took my time about it.

We're really dry in our area this summer. In fact the hay is pathetic, and the wildflowers are nothing like they were last summer. But there's still lots of western yarrow blooming, and little faint spots of purple and yellow here and there. And of course, the cactus don't mind the drought.

I had another item on the agenda while I was out in the horse pasture, and that was to check on the hawk nest that I told you about a few weeks ago.

As I headed out into the pasture, my heart was sinking because there wasn't any sign of the adults. On previous visits the hawks would always take flight and start circling overhead long before I was anywhere near the nest.
the nest is on the smaller hill to the right, and the parent's keep watch from the tip of the larger hill on the left
I drove up to the base of the hill, climbed over the fence, and began to make a slow climb to the nest sight. There was nothing visible, which really made me worry, because I figured by this time the chicks should have been fairly large.

I was nearly to the top, and everything was absolutely still and silent. There was no movement at all. It was very discouraging.
And then suddenly there was the noise of violently flapping wings right above my head and I ducked and turned just in time to see one of the parent's swooping away. I'd just been dive bombed by a hawk!
And when I turned back around, I discovered that a frontal attack had been in progress too!
I don't know if he thought a parent was delivering dinner, or if he was going to help defend the nest. Either way, he must have leaped out of the nest because there had been no sign of him prior to the diving hawk attack.
The other chick was hunkered down in the nest, where good little hawk babies belong. This one must be the obedient child! I was so thrilled to see they have survived!
There was no sign of that smaller chick or the dud egg that had been present on the previous visit, so it would seem there are just the two chicks. But two is awesome, and probably they have a higher chance at survival if the parents only have to feed two. Amazing how they've grown! Aren't they handsome and regal?
In a ratty, molting, juvenile kind of way?
Mom and Dad were both circling by this time, and I'd been dive bombed at least twice more. I didn't stick around too long or get too close, but it was an awesome experience.
And thanks to Mom and Dad's aggression, I was able to positively identify them. These are definitely Ferruginous hawks, as I had thought before!
I slipped back down the hill to leave, but had to take several backward glances to see what the chick was going to do (and a few upward glances to see if there were any more attacks coming). I estimate these chicks are between 4-5 weeks old, based on when we found the nest of eggs and when we discovered that they had hatched. I wonder how long it will be before they will be soaring on the prairie winds like their parents?

On a smaller scale....
...there was a Bullock's Oriole in my birdbath this morning! I've never seen one before! In fact, I didn't even know we had Oriole's, but we seem to be on the very edge of their territory. Not sure why they are here, since, along with bugs which we have lots of, they also love fruit and nectar,  and there is precious little of THAT  around here! But just the same, I was excited! What a great way to start my day! And tomorrow I have to pick up some grape jelly and see if I can entice him to stick around for the summer.


thecrazysheeplady said...

Neat, neat, neat!!!

Shirley said...

What an awesome experience with the hawks. Great shots too, how rare is that to be able to get that close?
The cactus flowers are gorgeous. We sure are MOT in a drought here, there is still the possibility of flooding as the snow continues to melt in the mountains.

Jake said...

Pickly pear cactus flowers are my favorite. I think it because they are just so darn tough.

MTWaggin said...

WOW Sarah, what amazing pictures of the hawks. I'm so glad you found that nest and were able get those photos. The prickly pear isn't blooming hear yet and the first cut of alfalfa has just started and it is pretty pathetic looking too. Missing last year's moisture.

Meagan said...

Your first line, "I really love to get outside this time of year" is a brutal reminder that you are no longer in Tennessee! lol!!!! We have had about 10000% humidity and have been floating somewhere in the upper 90s for what seems like forever! lol

The hawk next experience is amazing to me! What a blessing to get to see and experience that! LOVE the pictures - a couple of the baby out of the nest made me grin! lol ;-)


TexWisGirl said...

more great bird sightings!