Resident Raptors at the Nature Preserve

Last summer at the Raptor Open House Saturday, Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky released a bird at the Nature Preserve. A neighbor of Tavia’s found this red-shouldered hawk near her home, and Mike Huff captured it to be taken to Raptor Rehab for care. They found a Dell computer box to put her in, and thus she was named Adell. Fortunately, nothing much was wrong with her, and she was ready for release in a few weeks.

When the release time came, Adell flew to a nearby pine tree, and was instantly mobbed by our resident mocking birds. This happens on many raptor releases, and we’ve always been puzzled about it. How do the local birds know so fast that a raptor is being released? Adell took it in stride though, and we have seen and heard her around the Preserve ever since. Go to to hear the distinctive sound of the red shouldered hawk. Blue jays can mimic them, and it’s easy to be fooled.

Adell found a mate, and they often are seen and heard around the Nature Preserve. This week, they couldn’t resist soaring over Meadowlark Meadow, calling loudly to each other. And yes, the mockingbirds, orioles and robins still chase them around.

Female raptors are larger than males, so I might guess the bird on the right to be the male.

From below, the red shouldered hawk is easily identified by the light colored “window” near the tip of their wings which allows the sun to shine through. Since breeding season is about over, she’s starting to molt. Notice that she seems to be missing a feather on each wing. Birds don’t lose all their feathers at once, but a few here and there until they are all replaced. The flight feathers drop out in pairs so the bird isn’t put off balance.

Last spring we saw Adell headed for what appeared to be nest in the woods near the maintenance building, so Mike decided to climb the tree and see if she had chicks. The tree climb was successful (I know who I’ll call next time a cat can’t get down from a tree!), but he found nothing but an empty nest. We also haven’t see any hawk fledglings, so maybe she didn’t have a successful brood this year. We hope she will have better luck next year though, and we keep our eyes out for her!

Naturally yours,