Thursday, September 1, 2016

Red Car Property: Red Shouldered Hawks
Why Trees Matter

Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 21, 2016. As I walked south on the Red Car Property from the historic landmark viaduct footings, I heard the telltale sound of a mockingbird harassing a predator.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)  

If you want to see more hawks, learn the pissed off calls of mockingbirds.  This one chased a Red Shouldered Hawk to a branch high in a tree on Lot C of the Red Car Property.  I watched as the mockingbird dive bombed the hawk and hopped from branch to branch of a tree that had not resprouted leaves this spring.  The little bird was fearless and relentless in its noisy display.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 21, 2016.  While the mockingbird focused the bulk of its energy on the hawk near the top of the tree, it kept diving into the dense branches at the center of this clump of trees.  At this time of year, that could mean a recently fledged hawk was hanging around in the relative safety of the trees.  

If you walk the Red Car Property regularly, you know how narrow this trail passageway is.  I didn't see the second hawk until I was within 10' of the trees. The bright backlighting worked in the hawk's favor, as the feathers on its back and wings look like dappled light coming through the leaves.
Photo: Diane Edwardson, May 21, 2016.  I felt privileged to witness a Red Shouldered Hawk so close, at eye level.  Both hawks kept an eye on me and my on-leash dog as I snapped photos blindly, hoping to catch a good shot.  Sadly, this was the best I could do. 

I don't know if it was a mated pair or one or two recently fledged Red Shouldered Hawks. In the past few years, we've documented Red Shouldered Hawks on the north end of the Red Car Property almost exclusively.

The north end of the Red Car Property is Red Shouldered Hawk territory, most likely because it is the closest urban forested area to the LA River in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, with such a large swath of trees clear cut from the adjacent Riverside Drive lots, as well as a portion of the Red Car Property, it remains to be seen if Red Shouldered Hawks will continue calling the Red Car Property home.

Learn more about Red Shouldered Hawks: Cornell University's All About Birds

Most of the time, we've seen Red Shouldered Hawks in California Black Walnut trees.  
Click here for all our Red Shouldered Hawk posts.