It doesn’t take much to excite the locals. I mean, we have a festival to celebrate Fluff (which is coming up soon, btw, on the 24th, don’t think I won’t be there).
So if you take two large birds, put them in a large nest, and put that nest on a four story building near a Whole Foods, that is a recipe for a party.
And this is just what has happened the past two years over on Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge. A pair of red-tailed hawks set up camp on this building and proceeded to build a large nest out of sticks and raise some baby hawks, much to the delight of local birdwatchers and non-birdwatchers alike. It was quite the show! Not just the birds mind you, they mostly just sat there, but the people with the sun hats, lawn chairs, khaki shorts and telescopes.
Yes, telescopes. The hawks were at most 50 feet away.
This was no passing interest in these birds of prey, folks were committed to sitting and watching for hours on end, squeezed in on the sidewalk between Whole Foods and TJs. They even came up with a name, the “Hawk Stalkers.”
The adventures of “Buzz” and “Ruby” as they were named, is well documented (just Google “alewife hawks“), and I’m sure all the Stalkers hope they return next year. But red-tailed hawks are not uncommon, nearly every hawk-like bird you see soaring around Boston will be a red-tailed hawk. They are one of the most common hawks on the continent, and their call is likely
one of the most familiar bird calls that the average American has heard.
It is ubiquitous in movie sound tracks and stands in for the calls of eagles and vultures. Imagine a Western, the hero is lost in the desert, things are looking bleak… a vulture soars overhead and you hear a screeching “keee-arr” in the background. That’s actually a red-tailed hawk. So if you hear one in the sky circling over your head, don’t worry.
Vultures, in real life, can only hiss.
Loves | Attention, looking down on things
Sounds | Like a vulture in a movie (those are red tailed hawks, folks)
Looks | Large hawk with a buffy red tail, yellow eyes
Find | On Alewife Brook Parkway, or soaring above on a thermal
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PHOTOS CREDIT TO: donjd2, kat+sam and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- Northeast Region