65 65 BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • MARCH/APRIL ’ 17 • birdwatchersdigest.com
aah!” “Here I am! Here I am!
Here I am!” The female would
call, as she landed in a nearby tree
with the fruits of her hunt hanging in her talons. Kee-aah! Kee-aah! Kee-aah! the triplets would
answer, flailing to be first in line
to be fed. “Feed me! Feed me!
Feed me!” they called as they flew
up to meet her.
Inevitably, there would only be
enough frog for one and the
KEE-aah! KEE-aah! KEE-aah! would
start all over again in earnest.
KEE-aah! KEE-aah! KEE-aah!
“What about me? What about
me? What about me?” This procedure would be repeated every half
hour or so from dusk to dawn.
As luck would have it, the
juveniles picked the jungle gym
directly outside our home office
window as a common perch,
often appearing here with various meals. This allowed us a rare
opportunity to photograph these
wild raptors up close without disturbing them.
Around week ten, the female
began to lure the little ones out
of their comfort zone, as mealtime moved farther and farther
away from the safety of the yard.
We began to see less of them,
although the familiar KEE-aah!
KEE-aah! KEE-aah continued to
echo through the neighborhood.
After fourteen weeks of hawks
at the front door, the neighbor-
hood went quiet. The shadows
streaking across the sky disap-
peared. A week went by, and we
breathed a sigh of relief. We could
have our yard back.
Fifteen weeks after we first
saw the chicks peek over the nest,
we looked out the office window
and there sat one of our juvenile
feathered friends. He posed for
a full thirty minutes, squawking
the entire, time allowing us a final
volley of photographs. Then with
one last KEE-aah! as if saying
goodbye, he spread his wings and
off he flew.
Juvenile red-shouldered hawks
are independent of their parents
by nineteen weeks. First-year
mortality rates are high. Only
five percent live more than five
years. Parents often return to the
same area and may use the same
nest for several years. Under the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act it is
illegal to remove raptor nests,
active or inactive.
As to next year, we know there
are some awesome lake-view
properties a couple of subdivi-
sions over and we hope our hawk
family finds those as attractive
alternative nest choices. a
Mike Smeets is an avid birder,
photographer and writer. Since
moving to Florida from Canada,
Mike spends much of his time documenting the Great Florida Birding
and Wildlife Trail. You can see his
work at www.TelephotoFlorida.