Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday July 1, 2012 begins the second week of summer. On the 12th day of summer, day of the Red Tailed Hawk, 82 days of summer remain.

I have noticed smaller than usual chipmunks in the last week, one in
the landscaping of a chiropractor at Seminole and Henry and one
frolicking under a parked car. I am guessing that a batch of chipmunk
children have arrived from their mothers because I haven't noticed
chipmunks until the past week. The chipmunks have to impress me to
have a day dedicated to them. I'm looking for singing and dancing,
like Chip 'n' Dale and the Chippendales.

I bear in mind today we begin a new week and a new month on the same
day, and another round of monthly bills. Joy. Trying to see summer as
the big payoff for the yearly cycle of twelve monthly payments for
everything. I hear hundreds of people celebrating summer by lighting
matches and tossing firecrackers and then covering their ears. Even my
surroundings of marsh, forest and meadow have resounded with patriotic
celebrations of the middle of the year. No wonder the chipmunks are
hiding under cars! The sales year for my company have wrapped up the
second quarter and the first half of the year.

I have the rule that I must see an animal boldly pursuing its life
before I dedicate a day to them. I try to read up about the species in
the Wikipedia to begin speculating about their life. I desire to
positively identify the species, although I sense my lack of
experience prevents this. I was catching a ride and we were driving
south on business US-31, and we saw a raptor swoop down from the sky,
targeting a morsel on the freeway's shoulder. I think it was using the
noise of our approach to sneak up on a mouse we couldn't see. A foot
off the ground, the raptor scrubbed the strike and made for the woods,
flapping in deep strokes, rising, always in control. The sudden strike
surprised my driver, who exclaimed, "Holy Crap!" It perched amongst
the limbs. I was searching its feathers for identifying marks, and I
failed to detect the distinctive red feathers of its tail, with
pinkish ends. On the wings, I clearly saw the markings of the Red Tail

I was delighted to notice that we were about to pass under the
railroad crossing near Cress Creek, where I had observed the scattered
feathers of a raptor strike. I saw that the feathers were red with a
touch of gray, so I didn't want to call them Cardinal feathers. I know
the Pyrrhuloxia, or Desert Cardinal, has grey and red feathers, but
the range of that bird covers the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.
However, I began to wonder if my possible Red Tail Hawk had been
hawking those railroad tracks and maybe I could give it credit for the
kill? I've seen no indication that the Red Tail Hawk plucks its avian
prey before flying home to its nest, carrying the fresh kill in its

The Red Tail Hawk once had the name of Chicken Hawk, but no one calls
it that anymore. It's a common name for three different raptors.
People are proud of the Red Tail Hawk, and one of the more exclusive
golf clubs in North America is named after the raptor. The Redtail
Golf Club was built in 1992 near Port Stanley, Ontario. I had learned
about the golf course when every one was abuzz with the news of Mel
Gibson golfing upon those links. Pale Male, his romances the subject
of a book, has an exclusive address in Manhattan, 927 Fifth Avenue.
Trouble is, people in Central Park train telescopes on his nest, so
his dinners of squab make the society papers. I am looking forward to
getting to know my local raptor this summer. I suppose I should give
the raptor a proper name. He, or maybe she, makes a good addition to a
bank of suburban forest that also includes up to twelve eagles and
their families.

Pale Male:
Red Tail Hawk:
Marie Winn wrote about Pale Male. I am thinking she learned to watch
nature closely due to her rejection of television:

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