18 February 2013

Red-tailed Hawk Breeding Season Underway in Omaha

An extended weekend of birding has led to the discovery that the breeding season is well underway for Red-tailed Hawks residing amidst the urban setting of eastern Omaha.

Three very recent instances are particularly interesting.

Saturday morning, the 16th, a pair soared above the Elmwood Park pines, lazily spiraling, as a couple of mated hawks would. A bit of ways southward was where three had been seen four days previous at the southern extent of the parks' golf course, so these birds are obviously present.

This species has already been known to successfully raise young in this vicinity. It was a few years ago when the fledged young were so vividly appreciated among the pines westward of the Elmwood Park Ravine.

Then a bit past an ample arrival of sunlight on Sunday morning, while driving down Creighton Boulevard towards Adams Park, a pair were copulating atop a tree a couple of blocks north of Hamilton Street. This is an obvious indication of territoriality.

Early in the afternoon on the same day, while bicycling along Happy Hollow Boulevard, one of these hawks flew past, overhead, while carrying a short stick in its talons. It was an obvious clue, and sure enough, within moments it landed atop a massive pine.

A direct vantage point is available from the adjacent alley, and during the visit a big dog barked again and again. Apparently the birds are indifferent to barking by a big dog in a yard below their chosen place.

Perhaps this treetop is associated with an adult bird seen at the nearby school to the west, some time ago, that was so notably enjoyed, as it protectively ate a fresh rabbit carcass.

These observations indicate the possibility for three different pairs of these hawks looking to spend the coming breeding season, each within a relatively small extent in a bit of extent in the eastern portion of the river city.

Indifferent rabbits and squirrels, perhaps even errant pets will be the target of these predatory raptors looking for prey. And once there are young hawks in the nest, which will hopefully occur, the parent birds will be much more intent upon finding a meal.

Most of these observations are a result of outings, done while walking or riding upon a bicycle, or in the most limited sense via motor vehicle, while participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count.