Clark Hollow Ramblings: Hawks and other neighbors

A red-shouldered hawk.

Down in the front of our yard, there is a little creek that cuts off one corner, and continues on under the Fodderstack Road. Around that creek, and near the fence with our neighbor, Mrs. Lee, there are several large maple trees.

Two red-shouldered hawks have decided that those old maples would be a good place to build a new nest, and it has been interesting to watch them as they set up housekeeping.

For the last few years we have seen hawks almost every morning, as they sit perched in a tree or on a utility pole, keeping close watch on the broom sedge field and the big brush pile in Mrs. Lee’s lower yard. For the past two weeks, I have watched the mating of two red-shouldered hawks, in a locust tree growing on the side of the little stream.

Then, we watched them carry sturdy sticks and branches as they began to build a nest in one of the maples. Now, one of them, I assume the female, has taken up residence in the new nest. We keep a small pair of binoculars handy to watch the activity of the young couple.

At first, Linda wasn’t terribly thrilled with this new development. She is a huge fan of the eastern bluebirds. We have a number of boxes around the perimeter of the back field, and they often nest there. Our past experience with predators of this shy little bird, have left my wife with more than a modicum of suspicion about what is to blame for the occasional pile of blue bird feathers that we find, often near their nest box. Our past problem with wandering house cats seems to have abated for the time being, or maybe the word has gotten around.

I happen to think, personally, there are too many hawks around in the first place, given the scarcity of bob whites, rabbits, grouse , squirrels and a number of other things that these raptors prey upon. However, lest you fear for the buteos, I am fully aware that they are a federally-protected species, and down there in the front yard, next to the Fodderstack Road, they shall come to no harm from my hand.

My reasoning is, if they are going to be here anyway, I might as well have the pleasure of watching them raise a family. I just hope they are able to find enough mice and voles to fill their bellies, while our blue birds are nesting. I really don’t want to have my respect for the law tested. I’ll keep a close watch, and let you know how it turns out.

In the meantime, you should have your seed potatoes cut, and your onion sets ready to go in the ground as soon as it dries up a little. We needed those several nice rains, but it is now time to turn to the garden plot and get on with the business of living in the country in the spring of the year.

And finally, speaking of getting on with living, those you who knew my wife’s mother, Ellen Welch, can say a little prayer for her family, who are dealing with her recent passing. She was a wonderful, country woman, who loved the spring time and her garden. But most of all, she loved her family. For 47 years she and her husband, Julian, who passed in 1995, treated me just like a son, and I am eternally grateful for their love and support. Rest in peace, Mom.

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Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 128 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.