Monday, September 23, 2013

A Family of Red-Shouldered Hawks by Wes Deyton, Guest Blogger

A month or so ago, I came across a documentary on YouTube about a family of Red-Shouldered Hawks made by a man named Wes Deyton.  I also saw a number of really cool pictures that he took of the birds, and thought it might be interesting to see if he'd be willing to do a guest post!  Kindly, he was happy to oblige!  First, a bit about Mr. Deyton:

My name is Wes Deyton and I recently graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Broadcasting.  I live in Fuquay Varina North Carolina, which is near Raleigh.  I enjoy taking pictures and making videos of wildlife as well as scenic nature.

Anyways, let's all give Mr. Deyton a warm welcome!  I hope you enjoy these pictures and the video, all of which were taken by Mr. Deyton, as much as I did!
The Red Shouldered Hawks in the video (below) were filmed in the woods behind my house. I have been following them for about the whole Summer.  I did not get any footage of the hawks in the nest when they were really young, because I was still at WCU. I have not been able to find them lately because I think the young Hawks have gone on to find their own territory.
The Red Shouldered Hawk is a medium sized hawk, it primarily lives in woodland areas and it can be found all over the eastern woodlands as well as California and Northern Mexico. These birds generally live in woodland and swamp areas and build their nests high up in trees, close to sources of water such as lakes, streams and swamps.  The nesting period of these birds is about 45-60 days.  
The female hawk spends most of her time getting food to bring back to the nest for her young.  The diet of these birds consist mostly of small mammals, reptiles (including snakes), and amphibians.  There is no sharing in a hawks nest when it comes to food: when the mother brings food to the nest, the chicks have to fight for food.  Sometimes, the female hawk will feed the smaller hawk to make sure it gets enough nourishment to grow and develop healthily.  
Hawks get bored in the nest and dream about life on the outside. They dream about flying high like their parents. This is very evident by seeing them jump back and forth and flap their wings in the nest before they are fully developed to fly. The young hawks climb from branch to branch to develop their balance and then fly short distances until they build up their confidence to fly away from the nest.

The hawk is at the top of the food chain and strikes fear in smaller birds when they are around.
Aren't those pictures brilliant!  Thank you very much Mr. Deyton for sharing these pictures and the video with us, we hope to hear more from you again in the future!  Thanks again!  -Zack Neher

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