Young red-tailed hawks at Somme are often fun. They’re relatively fearless, and they do goofy things on the way toward being a grown-up. You can tell them from the adults by the lack of that deep red tail. But you can also recognize them by their actions.
|Red-tail youth (above left) starts its ferocious dive|
For its next display
the hawk decided
to hunt ducks.
don't regularly try that,
and the youngster
showed us why.
It first perched
over a pond
where mallards were swimming and repeatedly
swooped down on them.
In each case
the ducks easily scooted out of the way with startling splashes,
leaving a confused hawk,
and trying again.
The ducks could
have flown away,
or just swum to
a different part of the pond.
But no, they treated
the hawk as
a clueless nothing.
|Male (left) and female (center) mallards watch |
as wet hawk (right) tries to get airborne again
At one point,
the hawk actually dove at them such that it ended up stuck
down in the water of the pond
and had to go through
to get itself airborne again.
The mallards hardly even
After many tries
and much loss of energy
(to say nothing of pride),
the red-tail returned to normalcy, surveyed the grassland,
pounced on a mouse,
and perched on a dead limb to eat it.
“I had hoped for duck. Well, it’s mouse again,” it seemed to say.
The hawk was learning
its own nature.
It's a pleasure having this handsome animal figuring out how to be itself at Somme Prairie Grove.
I want to say to it, "Little one. You're getting better and better. You'll have
that rich red tail and be a fine and full-grown hawk some day. You're doing great."
I hope we can all learn from our mistakes with dignity as well.
All photos taken by Lisa Culp on March 28, 2013 at Somme Prairie Grove