Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hawk release at the Dudney Nature Center

This morning's hawk release by The Wildlife Center of Texas was a great success, and came with one heck of an unexpected bonus.
League City's very own unsung hero Sharon Schmalz and friend shortly before release.  The Wildlife Center of Texas is now one of the largest organizations of its type in the nation. 
Unfortunately, all I have of that unexpected bonus is the following circumstantial evidence.
The two rehabbed hawks were scheduled to be released at 9:30 a.m.  The release was a bit fashionably late in its timing, but at exactly 9:31 a.m. (I checked my watch), one of the Clear Creek bald eagles flew directly over the crowd that had assembled to see the hawks.  "This is like having the jets fly over before a Patriots game!" a guy behind me said.  What are the odds of having that happen??  It was really wild, in more ways than one. 

I didn't get a pic of the eagle, but I can offer you this collection of freaked-out laughing gulls.  Nothing like a predator with a 90-inch wingspan to really liven things up in the bird world.  All of the gulls took to the air in abject terror. 
 The hawks were both in fine form, and with their hawkish, indignant gazes, they are so easy to anthropomorphize
"Just who the hell do you think you are, lady?!"
"And now you've got everyone looking at my butt, too?!"

Sharon was demonstrating how this young 'un has only one reddish feather thus far, in what will grow to become a much redder tail. 
"These people are insane.  I need to get out of here."
"I think I'm fixin' to get my wish.  Better get ready."
Aaaand he's outa there. 
This resident red-shouldered hawk immediately raised a major vocal stink about the newcomers.

Yeah, that's a bit confusing.  The hawks that were released were both red-tailed hawks, but this one is a red-shouldered hawk.  Two different species.   
When you hear hawks screaming their guts out around League City, they are very often this type.  Red-shouldereds are not shy about making noise.  I'll close with someone's short YouTube which shows this behavior quite well.  Next time you hear that distinctive shrieking, you can impress your friends and neighbors by confidently declaring the identity of the perpetrator.

Update:  For whatever technical reason, this video embed is not displaying properly on certain mobile devices and iDevices.  Here's the direct URL:

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