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Struggle for survival, or a game of musical Chairs?

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One Summer I spent a lot of time visiting a drained reservoir about fifty miles from NYC. There was enough water remaining so that fish eating birds like Herons and Egrets were making out like bandits. In addition to this, the now exposed lake bottom was covered in various grasses, and such vegetation that doesn't miss opportunities for rapid growth; and thus was a heaven for rabbits, mice, and other such rodents. Which in turn attracted Hawks.

Early in Spring, I heard in the distance the screams of angry hawks. I knew there was a pair, but now looking closer I could see there were actually two pairs of Red Tailed Hawks. According to my none to detailed field guides these birds are highly territorial and will not tolerate another member of the species in a chosen territory. They are also monogamous, mating for life, so this was a battle not to miss.

Wow, I said to myself, I'm going to capture this on film! What a great moment! Well that day, by the time I hiked the two miles to the end of the lake, all the screaming had died down. I was too late... :(

A few days later I went up there again, and again I heard the screaming (probably a lot of cursing as well, but I'm not fluent in Hawk). Again I missed the action. I determined that tomorrow I would get there early enough to see what was going on. I say this because, come on? Just how long does a fight to the death take? :)

And I did get there early and I did shoot what turned out to be a game of musical trees. Each Hawk would scream at his neighbor from their respective trees about two hundred yards apart, and then fly bye each other and land in the spot the other had occupied.

Hawks are territorial because they HAVE to be territorial. If there's only enough game to raise one family, then if there are two, neither will be able to raise a family. But this place was now Hawk Heaven, and there was more then enough to go around. Since these birds are diurnal, there was no point in hunting before there was enough light, so as a warm up exercise they would play this game with each other - And this game went on for months... :)

Screams, curses, attacks, were simply me seeing what I expected to see. :D






Edited by Chato
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