Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wings over Centerpointe

I was driving along West Walker yesterday at about 3:30 in the afternoon when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a paper sack discarded next to the sidewalk.  I looked more closely and realized it was actually one of our resident red-tailed hawks.  I'm not sure if he had a rodent in his talons or if he simply decided to perch on the ground and watch the cars speeding by.  At any rate, he (or she) appeared to be in fine form.
Red-tailed hawk photo from (copyleft)
I have not yet attempted to photograph our hawk(s) for fear of disturbing them. 
If you keep an eye open around the storm water ponds, you can often see these fascinating birds of prey, usually not sitting on the ground like yesterday, but more typically perched on top of the light poles along West Walker, or soaring overhead.  Their screaming cries can be heard from almost anywhere in the eastern section of Centerpointe.  I believe there is one nesting pair that claims the territory surrounding the ponds, although I don't know where the nest is (their territories are often about two square miles in area, so it might be some distance from here).

Unlike many other birds of prey and higher-order predators, red-tails can thrive in close proximity to human development.  In fact, because mice and rats are found in abundance wherever humans live, we can actually contribute to the success of red-tails by unintentionally enhancing their food source.

An award-winning feature film has recently been made about the world's most famous red-tail, nicknamed Pale Male because of his coloration. 

Pale Male has defied the odds and prospered in New York's Central Park for almost twenty years now, adding great character and depth to the city and serving as a mascot for many of its citizens, who are not always noted for their social unity.

Keep your eyes open for our as-yet-unnamed resident red-tails.  With their 4.5-foot wingspans and commanding presence, they are an impressive sight in an otherwise fairly typical suburban landscape.

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