Thursday, June 27, 2013

Baby Huey and Louise Grow Up

Baby Huey and his sister, baby Louise, are rapidly taking over "A Small Tucson Desert Garden".  They enjoy swooping through the mesquite trees and hanging out around the fountain.  Still too young to hunt for themselves, the mother hawk keeps them fed with mice and small birds.  Normally this time of year our garden is full of small desert reptiles, birds and multiple families of quail - not so since the baby hawks arrived.  Humming birds are plentiful, since they can out maneuver hawks, and we have a family of Arizona Crested Fly Catchers, but our usual visitors have found another sanctuary. I wish the pigs (Javelina) would stay away, but no, they come through every 2-3 weeks and eat anything that holds moisture.  Our gopher snake that visited last year has come back, eyes cloudy and ready to shed his skin again.  He is well over 6 feet and hibernates in our flowerbed next to the hose faucets.  Last year at this time his mate joined him, but I haven't seen her yet.  Frankly, I have a phobia about snakes, any snake, and wish them well and far away from me.

Back to Huey, here is a recent video and photo of Huey's smaller sister on the patio:

This weekend it is suppose to reach 112 degrees - a tad hot for any living creature.  It will be interesting to see which of our usual visitors has the courage to seek refuge in our garden.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Baby Hawks Visit A Small Tucson Desert Garden

Life has taken a twist for Baby Huey and his parents  since he dropped out of his nest a couple of weeks ago.  Now we think there were 3 baby Cooper Hawks, not one, in the nest, with the original Baby Huey having met his demise.  Last week we went a couple of days without seeing Huey and then happened upon a dead immature hawk not far from our house on one of our morning walks.  You would have thought we had lost a beloved pet. But, God is good, and we were greeted the same day with Huey's larger brother and eventually, a smaller sister.

We now have a pic of the mother (right).  She is small, compared to the father, and from what we can tell does most of the parenting which includes  dive bombing us when we come near one of her babies.  We now wear protective head gear when picking up the mail knowing the path runs near the nest.  So far no injuries, except Susan did bang up her knee trying to dodge an attack and ran into our heavy wrought iron door.  The larger father hangs out across the street in Carl and Barb's pine tree.  He is quite impressive sitting on his big pine branch and surveys our house it seems 24/7.  To our knowledge, that's pretty much all he does.  When the mother isn't observing her chicks from the Eucalyptus tree in our yard, she is out hunting.  As you will see, she does a good job at this as the 2 remaining immature hawks are now as big, if not bigger, than she is!

To the left is one of the babies relaxing on top of the fort I built for our granddaughters (see a previous chapter of my blog if you are interested in building one).  Both of the babies have become used to seeing us and unlike their parents tolerate us watching them at close range.  This drives the mother nuts of course and when she has dinner she drops it (usually a desert mouse) in front of the baby without bothering to land if we are watching.

I have stitched together another video of the two immature hawks and as you will see they are not camera shy.

We didn't see the young hawks today, which is unusual, but did see the dad hanging out on the pine tree.  Till next time!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Baby Hawk Visits A Small Tucson Desert Garden

Although I haven't posted in a while I assure you "A Small Tucson Desert Garden" is alive and thriving in Tucson, Arizona.  In a later post I will have some photos of what the garden looks like now.  BUT, today, I just had to share a very special visit by a baby hawk and have added some photos and video.  We believe this particular hawk is a "Cooper's Hawk", although we generally have had Harris Hawks living here.

We have had hawks living in our Eucalyptus trees for years.  As a side note, Eucalyptus trees are big, beautiful and thrive in our desert, BUT I do not recommend you plant them near your garden or home.  They are messy, the leaves and roots are mildly toxic to plants growing near them, and the branches are brittle and can break during a monsoon storm.

Our hawks are majestic predator birds that are thrilling to watch and help keep our garden mice and other rodent population to a minimum. Their nests are large - and now we know why, their young are huge.  "Baby Huey", as we affectionately call him, is almost as big as the mother - and he still can't fly!

I had wanted to get photos of Baby Huey and his mother together, but she appears only to visit him at feeding time. This consists of swooping down, dropping a desert mouse in front of him, and then shooting back to a pine tree across the street - no time for a shot.  Eventually, she flies back to our Eucalyptus tree and perches on her "look-out" branch to watch Huey waddle around our yard.  The mother will squawk at us if we get close to Huey, but, being used to seeing us in the garden, she will allow us to get within photo distance before warning us off.  

The following is a link to a musical video I posted on YouTube  of a song I wrote about likening the relationship between God and man to a mother bird and her chicks. I posted this song a couple of months before Baby Huey's visit.