Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rapture

Who says the desert doesn't have life?:)  There's life all around....you just have to keep your eyes open.  Lately I have been fascinated by hawks because they have come into my life.  I started feeding birds this summer.  By feeding birds, I attracted the hawks.  To date, we've had Cooper's Hawks and a Red Tailed Hawk visit our area.  Those links will take you to the El Presidio grounds and give you a closer look at these fascinating creatures.  Today I'm adding another hawk to know about here in the Tucson area.....the Harris Hawk.
These birds are amazing and they all have different characteristics.  I've been watching them closely as they have been watching me:)  Should I be scared?  No.  They are extremely intelligent creatures who work together as a team.  The Harris Hawk is not native to Tucson and orginally hails from South America.  But as ranchers spread out over the desert land, they brought their cattle and created water sources for this hawk.
These hawks have to be careful with our hot summer days.  The birds work as a unit flying around and catching food like jack rabbits(which can weigh up to 8 or 10 pounds!)  I snapped a shot of these birds working together in unison catching prey below.  They were extremely gymnastic during their flight. During summer days, they will hunt for prey during the earlier hours and disappear during the afternoon hell.
I'm very OCD so I asked the experts....what's the difference between these 3 hawks?  The Cooper's Hawk works as a team of 2 where the Red Tailed Hawk will swirl the highest of them all in a solitary fashion and then from out of nowhere come crashing down on its prey!  The Harris Hawk flies in a family unit.  In fact, the Red Tail Hawk will hang off to the side while the Harris Hawk flies around the sky....so you could say that there is a "pecking" order among hawks:)
I have been on the hunt for the Great Horned Owl here, but instead I have been finding nothing but hawks all around me....and to be honest, I'm totally okay with that:)  I've written in the past that I usually go with the intent to film or photograph one thing but end of getting shots of something else.  That's just how it happens.
So I headed to the Desert Museum to participate in their Rapture Free Flight show which is happening now until April 15th.  Plan your time accordingly as the shows only happen at 10 AM and 2 PM daily.  The Harris Hawks were incredible.  There was such a thrill in watching them fly all around us.  Apparently at the 10 AM show, the Great Horned Owl is featured, but that is just rumour:) So I missed the owl but learned something new.  Cool:)
The information for this show is found here.
I have been fascinated by these birds for quite awhile.  The hawk population has increased in the West due to the fact that there is a lot of food provided willingly or unwillingly by humans.  People bring their cats and little dogs which provide an excellent food source.  I've seen  two instances where hawks have made those kills.  One scared me to death.  I was cooking in the kitchen when out of nowhere a hawk crushed a pigeon in front of my window in the backyard.  The second one was sad...really sad.  Skip this part if you love your pets.  I was again by the kitchen window when a hawk came out of nowhere and grabbed the neighbor's kitten.  For that incident, I ran outside but it was too late. I wasn't angry at the hawk, but it just made me sad for the cat and angry at the neighbors for letting the kitten outside.  They were upset and the mother was crying.  People who move to the desert need to be aware that there are a lot of things out there that want to eat your precious pets.  Coyotes love yappy little dogs....and I love that they love yappy little dogs:) So be forewarned newbies.  It seems to happen to a lot of Southern and Eastern transplants from places like Virginia or North Carolina.  Coyotes, snakes, hawks, jumping cactus are just a few critters looking for Ms. Kitty or Spot the Wonderdog:)
Movies are terrible these days, but shows like these are extremely wonderful to attend....and educational.  So while the ticket for the Desert Museum may run you 14 bucks, it's money well spent.  I have a habit of talking to myself while operating my camera which comes from my father.  A fellow photgrapher was looking at me and smiling because he does the same thing. There's something about waiting patiently for an animal or bird and then....BANG! They do their show, the camera snaps....and it's really exciting all of it.  I was laughing at the hawk's shenanigans .  The birds, literally, fly right by your head....and they're big!!!
I suffer from pic overload at times, but I thought they were all pretty cool and couldn't decide which one to put on this post......so I put them all on:)
So I'll let you enjoy the show........if you're in the area, check it out.  You won't be disappointed.  And when I find owls, you can bet you'll see them here first:)  If you see hawks in your yard, don't be frightened, but do watch your pets if they go outside.  They are extremely intelligent creatures.  I've watched them corral birds into people's windows(including my own!) which knocks the bird out giving the hawk a free meal.  My cats watch the 50 some birds outside my window everyday, but when they freak out and run for their lives, I know there's a hawk nearby.....especially when I see a large shadow block the sun:)
More cool stuff tomorrow....







6 comments:

  1. Hello! What a beautiful photos!

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  2. these harris hawks are so beautiful! so rich in color! your photos do them justice very well! we get the red-shouldered here, primarily, and red-tails and coopers on occasion, too. :)

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  3. Wow, they are beautiful birds and wonderful photos too! Glad you decided to show them all along with the fascinating narrative.

    There are hawks in the field out back and they are always showstoppers when they hunt. Difficult to catch in a photo.

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  4. Brilliant flying birds, though, that Hawk must have soar feet standing on the cactus, its not as bad as sitting down, oooooh.

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  5. That coyote bit made me laugh :-) lots of yappy dogs here, unfortunately no Coyote!!

    Thanks for you latest comment on my blog, it was very enlightening, I like the sound of what you are doing in your garden :-)

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  6. such beautiful hawks and great sequences of shots. well done.

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