My morning routine is one you’d expect from an animal and bird loving coffee addict. My inside cat, Alexa, wakes me up usually around 5:30. By the grace of God, I make it to the kitchen where I feed her while simultaneously turning on the coffee maker. An art form perfected over the years.
While Alexa eats (as though she hasn’t eaten in months) and the coffee fills the kitchen with a Heavenly aroma, I gather up bird seed, fresh water, cat food, peanuts, dried corn, sunflower seeds and whatever else may be needed in the great outdoors. I feed my outside cats (Queen Fatima and Hannah) who always seem to be exhausted from their evening activities – I don’t judge them. They’re single. I fill their water bowls with fresh water and a little ice…. they like that in the summer. As Fatima (a feral cat I turned into a big baby) and Hannah eat and drink, I make my way to the different squirrel and bird feeding stations in our yard. I say squirrel and bird because they’re in the yard almost constantly, but rabbits, skunks, raccoons, possums, and even coyotes and deer have been known to think of our yard as their own personal kitchen.
In fact, an adorable little skunk family is in our yard almost as much as the squirrels. Smelly little cusses when they get riled up, but so cute they’re worth it.
This morning, as I was filling the squirrel’s feeder with cracked corn and sunflower seeds, I wondered why they weren’t nearby. Usually the squirrels are waiting for me each morning. When I heard a crazy scream overhead, I realized why they were hiding out. The cardinals and doves that were focusing intently on their breakfast scattered as I looked up to see a really big, beautiful hawk gliding over us. The sounds she made could only be described as screams. She landed on a large phone pole behind our house. I made her promise to stay put while I ran in for my camera.
When I returned, I was SO glad to see she was where I’d left her. She had done just as I’d asked her to… which is why I’ve attributed the feminine pronoun to her rather than the male. I took several pictures, which you see here. Keep in mind that it was between 5:30 and 6:00 am and I was operating without so much as a gulp of coffee yet. So the pictures aren’t that fantastic. After a couple cups of coffee, I looked at the pics and asked myself, “Why didn’t you center her in the picture better?… Why didn’t you hold your hand steadier?… Why didn’t you climb on the car to get a little closer?… Why did you cut her tail off in a couple of pics?.. If you’d have climbed on the garage roof, you’d have been thisclose..”
After 2 cups, I’m invincible.
I’m also ridiculously in love with and excited by animals and birds, so the fact that I even attempted to photograph this beauty instead of just gawking at her is huge for me. I’d have been a hawk gawker, and it wouldn’t have been the first time.
I’ve looked through my bird books and checked websites that I trust, but I”m still not 100 percent sure what type of hawk this is. After posting these pictures, I’m going to contact Geoff Roberts, Rough River Dam State Resort Park’s Program Services Leader, Naturalist, Fisherman, Bird Expert, and all around super nice guy. If anyone can tell what type of hawk this big beauty is, he can. The only problem is, my pictures may not give him much to go on – after all I didn’t climb a car or anything. Cursed hindsight!
If he’s able to identify her, I’ll come back and edit this post.
EDIT: He knew… as I knew he would! She’s a Red Tailed Hawk.
Click on the Hawk’s pictures for a closer look. Unfortunately the pictures don’t capture just how big and gorgeous she was: