Monday, November 9, 2015

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk on the Tuolumne River

I'm looking forward to the completion of the Tuolumne Parkway Trail in Waterford. This new nature trail will follow the Tuolumne River for two miles where it flows from the Sierra Nevada into the Great Valley. I've been going out and back for months now on the trail route, but eventually a stairwell to the top of the bluffs will allow me to make a loop along the river.

This morning was a bit of an adventure, as we received nearly an inch of rain overnight, and the not-yet-surfaced trail was a bit of a mud track. I wasn't seeing many birds this morning, but at one spot overlooking the river I simply stopped and stood for awhile. Before long a variety of birds were fluttering into the shrubs around me. Most notably, up on the bluff a very large bird landed in a tree and started making a lot of noise.
I knew it was a hawk right away, but I couldn't identify it until later. It was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus). I was confused, since it didn't have red shoulders yet, but it was certainly a beautiful bird. The Red-shouldered Hawks have a very unusual distribution, with a wide range in the eastern United States, and a narrow range along the Pacific coast, with no overlap in between.

I took a short video of the bird calling. It was in no hurry to leave, and maybe was actually telling me to leave instead. I've seen a couple of Red-shouldered Hawks in the area, including an adult a few days ago. I only got a few shots, but one can make out the orange-red color on the "shoulders" (epaulets?). A family group?

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