Black-Shouldered Kite Brings a Gopher to Her Chicks

At Natural Bridges State Beach,Santa Cruz, CA, a Black-Shouldered Kite brings food to her four hungry chicks throughout the day. Food sources include gophers, voles, small snakes, lizards, small birds, crickets, and beetles. While she brings most of the food to her brood, her mate watches over them from a distance, atop a tall tree, on the lookout for crows and other hawks. These youngsters will probably fledge within the next two weeks. Photographed July 20, 2016. [I prefer the original name for this species – I’m old school.]

Red-Shouldered Hawk

It was no surprise to us to discover a pair of Red-shouldered hawks nesting in the giant live oak tree twenty feet above the front door of my Lakeland, FL home. The nearby lake, home to an abundance of frogs, snakes, lizards, possums, armadillo’s and a host of other critters, is prime hawk real estate.

For about nineteen weeks in the summer of 2015 we had the privilege to be eye witness to a trio of hawks begin their lives. Around week five, the nest was getting too small for three rapidly growing chicks and they branched out a little further each day, stretching their wings, legs and claws, within the confines of the home tree.

By week six they were making short flights around the yard and onto neighboring roofs as they practiced hunting prey, starting with easier catches like large insects and small snakes and lizards.

Although it was an exciting experience having hawks on the premises, we readily admit that we are not sorry to see them go. Mama had a bad habit of dive bombing the yard.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology