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Close Encounter with a Hawk

I recently was pruning a shrub when Lou, who was standing nearby, whispered, "You have a visitor."A Red-Shoulered Hawk, photo taken in my garden on another day

I looked around, and not ten feet from me on a low tree branch, sat a large hawk. My heart thumped a bit, for he was clearly watching me. Sizing me up for prey? I doubt it; I would have been more than a mouthful!

He was nearly level with my head, and for a few moments I found myself locking eyes with him, briefly transcending the gulf that naturally separates humans from wild creatures. Finally, in no hurry at all, the hawk lifted his wings and took flight.

My garden is blessed with several predatory bird families, including both hawks and owls. I am thankful, for they help keep the vole and chipmunk population down. Voles have been the nemesis of my garden, destroying the roots of many valuable plants.

The chipmunks are much cuter than the mousy-looking voles, but they are cohorts in crime.He just looks innocent!They have dug an extensive series of underground tunnels for themselves, and the same tunnels are also used by the voles who want to snack on my roots.

This was not the first time predatory birds have shown an interest in us. An owl once followed Lou around the garden, flying from tree to tree to keep him in sight. Maybe his nest was nearby; maybe he was just curious!

It is always a delight to be outside this time of year, as the birds and other creatures go about the business of building nests and making babies. A symphony of twitters, chirps and calls of all sorts greets me every morning. New life is emerging along stems and branches, and many plants are blooming. Spring's verdure seems premature this year. We are expecting freezing temperatures this week, but the birds are telling me: No worries; spring is here!


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Reader Comments (11)

Oh, I hope that blizzard I heard was hitting the east isn't going south far enough to bother you, Deb! We have red-tailed hawks here but I've never managed to get nearly as close as you did. They visit us periodically but not frequently - maybe squirrels aren't as appetizing as voles and chipmunks, or perhaps they have a territorial dispute with the crows, who visit far more often. That chipmunk is cute but he does have a greedy look about him!

March 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Great images Deb; it must have been quite disconcerting to be eye to eye with the hawk. We had a Kestrel in the garden on Saturday, they are probably the most common bird of prey in this area although we so see a lot of other species too.

March 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Oh, those chipmunks and voles are much too cute to end up as hawk food.

March 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

How awesome to be that close to the hawk! I've seen them in the garden here, and swooping down on prey, but I've never been that close to a wild one! We have chippers and voles here, too, but honestly, the rabbits do much more damage to my garden--eating plants down to the ground and trying to form their dens among the plant roots. Poor plants! Enjoy your early spring!

March 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

How awesome! I love seeing hawks in the garden! I have yet to actually see an owl in the garden, but occasionally I hear them. Anything to help get rid of voles!

March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

What an impressive visitor! I don't consider chipmunks to be cute - rabbits either. The hawks can eat them all, as far as I'm concerned.

March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Your hawk is beautiful! Like you, I'm grateful for garden residents like hawks, owls and foxes that keep the rodent population under control.

March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Oh that is so neat to be that close to a majestic bird like a hawk! I love to see them sitting high up in our trees, or to hear them shriek as they fly overhead. We are also lucky to have owls, though I don't see them as often.

March 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave@OurHappyAcres

Love your chipmunks! I know they can be a pain, but they are adorable. Of course, I don't have any in my area, but the hawks we have, I see them hanging around when we baby mourning doves :/

March 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGone Tropical

Great pics of the hawk and the 'munks. :)

We've definitely had a hawk (or hawks?) hanging around more than usual this year. Often he/she comes to sit on a neighbor's fence at the back of the garden, but the other day, he/she swooped right in and sat on a branch of the crape myrtle alongside the patio. Pretty cool!

March 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

I think the chipmunks are adorable. Your hawk was a great capture and lucky Lou told you about it.

March 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

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