"A Shady Patio"
It was blistering hot outside, with the air-conditioning running full blast at our house when we received a call from the Russells who live just west of the black hill in St. George. It was Zack Russell and he said he had Hawks sitting in the shade of his patio, and they came each day in the late afternoon. Wow! Having Hawks on your patio, just a few feet away from an outside door would be the ultimate birding experience! Who else has up-close encounters like this? We just had to make a trip to Zack’s house.
When we arrived at his house, there were huge trees in the neighborhood, a great area for birds. The Russell’s back yard was enclosed with a lovely small pond and landscaped with trumpet vines, bushes, flowers, several bird feeders, and a variety of trees. When we looked out his window at the back patio, sure enough there was an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk standing just feet away from the window, cooling off. The Russells said they have had as many as three Hawks sitting in the shade at one time. What a great location for Sharp-shinned Hawks to raise their young. Heavy leaf cover in the tress for nest protection, an area full of Mourning Doves, House Finches, and House Sparrows . . . a smorgasbord of food to feed to the Sharp-shinned babies. After hatching the young Hawks are brooded by the female while the male defends the territory and catches food. Then when the juvenile ‘Sharpie’ is capable of flying he is still fed by his parents another four weeks. Sharp-shinned Hawks will nest close to humans, especially when there is a ready food supply. And when its HOT, what better place to go than to a shady patio with water.
Hawks are known to return year after year to the same areas and hopefully they will continue to nest in the heart of Dixie. What a treat for us to be within ten feet of a Sharp-shinned Hawk. There is quite a difference in the juvenile and the male adult (see pictures), and a female is browner on back, less heavily barred, and twice the weight of the male. If you would like to learn more about Hawks or birds in general, then come to our Red Cliffs Audubon meetings and field trips each month. Public is welcome. The artist for this Sharp-shinned Hawk is Judy Warren, and the artist for the Juvenile Sharpie is Marilyn Davis. Study it well so if you have a Hawk stop by in the shade of your patio you will know if it is a ‘Sharpie’ or not. For more information go to redcliffsaudubon.org website or call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996.