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A Birds of Pray Study of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Region

Posted by encouraged , in Different Place & Time--M... 22 February 2012 · 823 views

Swanson Hawk Red Tail Great Horned Owl Owl
When I travelled to whatever hospital needed, me on any particular day--many out of town--I noticed that I was seeing lots birds of pray! It was the eleven year Swanson Hawk death by starvation cycle. They were perched by the highway hoping for roadkill.

So, I got one of those huge, coffee table, exhaustive books on the subject of birds of pray. I read about the ones I saw in our area first. Then I read about all the rest.

Well, that is the kind of information I retain well, because I can call it up so often to see if I observe any of the things I read while traveling around and watching for every opportunity to spot them from the highway.

Now my drives weren't so boring. I could identify the type of bird and watch its behaviors. Then I could record the date, time, and place I saw it. I got to where I knew where every hawk would be at any given time of the day. That is because I watched them for over the eight years I traveled through the region I worked. I could even tell you when some of them would use the restroom, they are that predictable. Everything seems to be on a schedule with birds.

Red tail hawks always land somewhere near the victim before they attack. Swanson hawks and red tail hawks are the same size, weight, food supply, build, perch posture, but their markings are different. They interbreed although they are separate species. So, distinguishing which of the two kinds they are can be tricky.

Sometimes Swansons Hawks will perch before a capture. Sometimes they will not.

Marsh hawks are about the same size but very different. If you face them head-on-head, they look like an owl, but their profile view is that of a hawk. They never attack from a perch

They fly parallel lines, with the highway usually, and each line is a sortie of about twelve feet high and twelve feet parallel with the last line of flight, from fence post of a farm field to the next fence post, at the other end of the field.

Marsh hawks perch at a 60 degree angle when on a fence post or tree limb perching. Red tail and Swansons' perch vertically, and sometimes can not be distinguished from the fence post. Great horned owls are that way, as well.

In the case of the owl it keeps the little birds away, because they don't identify that the owl is there. Little birds like to gang up on owls all the time in the daytime, and won't allow them to sleep because they capture their young for food, and are hated for hunting and finding little defenseless birds in the dark of night.

[Perhaps to be continued at a later time.]

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