Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Poaching Hawks

This year I've noticed an unusual preponderance of hawks in Gainesville. Everywhere I go, it seems, I hear them screaming, or whatever it is called, or see them circling or perching. There's at least one hawk that lives near my house, at least one in my parents' neighborhood, and a couple in another neighborhood where I spend a lot of time.

But the best hawk-watching is at work. I have a large picture window in my cubicle that looks out onto a sort of yard outside our building. A pair of hawks lives nearby, and they like to hang out on the telephone poles, telephone wires, and trees right outside my window, cleaning their beaks, ignoring angry swooping mockingbirds, and turning their heads 180 degrees. They eat insects at the base of the poles and fly around looking for rodents or whatever. They're magnificent.

Photo by Kim

I think they're red-shouldered hawks, and I'm pretty sure they're a mated pair. Their nest is near the top of a pine tree near our parking lot, about 70 feet up. I don't have any [poached] photos of the nest, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. Around May I heard some chicks peeping! But I never saw them fledge. I wonder what happened to them. Did they make it? Do they live nearby?

Photo by Kim

I have a theory about why hawks are so ubiquitous in Gainesville this year. Here it is: This fall there was a huge crop of acorns, bigger than anyone I know from North Florida can remember it being. I postulate that the population of squirrels therefore exploded, and that the hawks chowed on the squirrels, meaning more of them mated successfully, and more of those chicks survived. Anyway, it's all I got.

Photo by Jen

I never "got" birdwatching until a couple of years ago. Before that, I was all, who cares about birds? But there's nothing like living in L.A. for two years to remind you what's so amazing about North Florida. A couple of years ago I started spending a lot of my free time canoeing on various Florida rivers and paying close attention to wildlife. The more I learned, the more in awe of birds I was. There's something very satisfying about paying careful attention to the plants and animals of a place. I'm not sure I can articulate it more clearly than saying it just makes me feel more alive.

Note: I still don't have a camera, as you can see. These photos were poached from my co-workers. (Thanks!) Until I get another digital camera, I'll try to keep the blog up as much as I can with other people's photos.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Glad to be of assistance.

I like your acorn theory.