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Hawk Season

Red-tailed hawks and other raptors are easier to spot this time of year.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

As you travel Texas highways this fall, watch for red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) perched high in trees, sitting atop utility poles and fence posts, or soaring in the sky. From those lofty locations, their keen eyesight can detect even the slightest movement on the ground. Dive-in meals typically include rodents, rabbits, birds, snakes and lizards.

As their name implies, red-tailed hawks - the state’s most widespread and abundant bird of prey - have rust-colored tails with whitish breasts. Pairs bond for life, and the larger female, along with her smaller mate, will together fiercely defend their nest and territory against aggressors.

In the fall, red-tailed hawks, begin migrating south. Another species - broad-winged hawks from northern states - migrate in huge flocks called “kettles” from mid-August through mid-October. At Hazel Bazemore County Park in Corpus Christi, volunteers with the annual Hawk Watch have recorded kettles as large as 100,000 broad-winged hawks!

As for red-tailed hawks, watch for them in urban areas, where they’ve adapted quite well. Last year in Austin, a pair was spotted at the Capitol, often perched atop the building’s highest point — the star held by Goddess Liberty. In New York City, longtime couple Pale Male and Lola, who tend a nest on Fifth Avenue, have their own Web site (www.palemale.com).

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