A Red-Tailed Hawk’s first flights (Part 1, getting started)

Recent­ly I had the priv­i­lege of pho­tograph­ing a juve­nile Red-tailed Hawk dur­ing the first few days of flight. I wasn’t for­tu­nate to cap­ture the very first attempt but those soon after. It was a great learn­ing expe­ri­ence for me. (Of course, I say that after almost every shoot I’ve com­plet­ed.)

Juvenile Red-tail in a dead tree

It was easy to imag­ine, as it had been on ear­li­er days when first I saw Juvy stand­ing on the nest peer­ing out at the world, the trep­i­da­tion it must have felt. Some will tell you that birds have no emo­tion but I think that is ridicu­lous; no crea­ture could make its way through the world with­out emo­tion. Why would one be cau­tious unless first feel­ing fear?

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk looking aboutAny­way, I imag­ined the bird look­ing down at the far-off ground and the inter­ven­ing branch­es and leaves as they moved about in the wind being some­what per­plexed.

Juvenile Red-tail looking perplexedIs there space between those things? Can I trust those lit­tle stick things to hold me?
If I spread my wings will they hold me up?

At some point the bird, per­haps through the insis­tence of ancient mem­o­ry, has to lift off and fly. And so Juvy did, but not very far at first.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk flying through the branchesGet out of the way, branch!”

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in the branchesThat’s bet­ter!”

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk airborneGet me to that branch over there.”

Not hav­ing the strength to fly back up to the nest, where it would be fed, after hav­ing flown down to the tree below the nest, Juvy made short hops from branch to branch back and forth between the two trees, gain­ing height with each short flight.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk landingMade it!”

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk looking aheadNow back to the bare tree!”

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in mid flightHere we go.”

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk landing on a branch in a dead treeGot­ta watch my feet.”

Time out for a lit­tle rest.

Time out for a restTime to go climb the tree to my nest, I’m hun­gry.”

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk climbing a branchNear­ly there, good thing my claws are sharp.”

 Juenile Red-tailed Hawk inits nest.OK, Mom, where are you, I“M HUNGRY.”

Even­tu­al­ly it got back up to the nest in time for Mom to bring lunch.

So much for today, time to take a nap.

(Con­tin­ued in A Red-tailed Hawk’s first flights (Part 2)

This entry was posted in BIRD LIFE & BEHAVIOR, Red-Tail learns to fly Pt 1 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Red-Tailed Hawk’s first flights (Part 1, getting started)

  1. Mike Smarrito says:

    I just found your site as my wife and I are now observ­ing two baby hawks that are nest­ing in a large oak tree behind our house. Based on the pho­tos you have tak­en it appears that our hawks have a lit­tle while to devel­op before their first flight as ours still have fuzz on their heads. There are two in the nest. I wish I had a zoom lens to take pho­tos.

  2. Sharon Salisbury says:

    Have you ever con­sid­ered writ­ing a book? I love how you imag­ine what the bird is think­ing. I once read of a pair of fledg­ling eagles learn­ing how to fly. The par­ents nudged one out of the nest and then flew along side it like fight­er jets escort­ing a plane down. How­ev­er, when the female went for her solo flight, the par­ents saw a rab­bit and instinc­tive­ly dropped down and the young­ster fol­lowed. She hadn’t learned about grav­i­ty, how­ev­er nor how to stop and she crashed land­ed and broke her neck. I was astound­ed as I just thought birds knew how to fly instinc­tive­ly with no prac­tice. I don’t know how you get these pho­tos but they are trea­sures.

    • admin says:

      Yes, I have. The title is Avia­nau­tics: the Art and Sci­ence of Flap­ping Flight. It is on a publisher’s desk now, wait­ing on his deci­sion. Birds fly by imi­ta­tion, not instinct, though many think so. I believe I have enough evi­dence to prove my point.
      (You might look at the tabbed page “Avia­nau­tics” at the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *