Monday, August 25, 2014

Red Car Property: Red Tailed Hawks - It's All In The Body Language

Photo: Diane Edwardson August 15, 2014.  Neighbors often ask how to tell the difference between the adult & juvenile Red Tailed Hawks.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)  

You can't always tell by the size, because we do have some pretty big hawks around the Red Car Property.  However, the giveaway is the muscularity & confidence.  

Mature adults exude confidence in their body language. The first photo is definitely a mature adult.  It was hunting squirrels among the California Black Walnut Trees on the Red Car Property.  The hawk has full chest, wing and shoulder muscles, strong legs & talons too.  It is securely balanced on the slick metal portion of the telephone pole.  Everything about this raptor says "I am a successful hunter."
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 1, 2014.  A couple weeks earlier, a recently fledged Red Tail was perched awkwardly on the same telephone pole, watching squirrels run noisily around among the Black Walnut Trees below.  They had no fear of the nearby hawk.  The youngster knew it was supposed to watch, but really didn't know what to do to capture breakfast.  It was having trouble balancing on the pole, using its not so muscular wings to help it balance.  This is not a confident hawk, but it's trying to be.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, August 15, 2014.  Wide shot of the mature adult for location on the Red Car Property.