Sunday, April 19, 2015

Red-shouldered Hawk Nestlings

For the past couple months, I've known of a Red-shouldered Hawk nest near the Braes Valley parking lot of Lake Creek Trail. I've checked it whenever I've been out birding and usually have seen a bird on it. Once I was lucky enough to see the two parents trade off incubating the eggs. The smaller male flew in with a big rat, and the larger female left the nest and approached him. He gave her the rat which she took to another perch and started eating. He then got on the nest.

With last night's storm, I wondered if the nest was still there. I know there was hail in central Austin last night but I don't think we got any up here. Still, heavy rain and strong winds can destroy a hawk's nest. When arrived at the Braes Vally parking lot at about 9:00 this morning I didn't see any bird on the nest, but when I returned over two hours later I was pleased to find two white fuzzy nestlings! Only one was visible when I pointed my camera at them, and here are my photos:

Red-shouldered Hawk Nestling - 1

Red-shouldered Hawk Nestling - 2

The nestling was panting, with its tongue stuck out. If this bird thinks it's hot now, he or she is in for a long summer!

It turned out to be a fun morning. I ran into Craig Browning and Steven McDonald, and we got to hear a Swainson's Thrush and a Yellow-breasted Chat, both north-bound migrants. Near the baseball fields I saw a couple Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and my first Western Kingbird of the season, both summer residents. And I was excited to find a single Semipalmated Sandpiper in a small group of Least Sandpipers. It has been a couple years since I've seen one on our creek. Here's a photo I got. The Least Sandpiper is on the left:

Semipalmated Sandpiper - 1

Dragonflies are also coming back! I was happy to see several newly returned Common Green Darners foraging in the air. Here's a particularly colorful male that I was able to photograph when it perched:

Common Green Darner

Here's my complete bird list. And here are a few more photos.

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