Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meet the Neighbors

Last weekend while I was mowing the lawn I kept seeing a large hawk circling near the edge of our field before it would eventually dive down to the ground behind some brush and out of sight.  That in itself isn’t all that suspicious as we’re in the country and the field is full of things hawks like to eat – mice, snakes, etc.  What was strange is the frequency with which I was seeing this action.  When I saw a slightly smaller, lighter colored hawk do the same thing in the same area, I knew something was up.

Male Northern Harrier (Circus cayneus) in flight

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Northern Harrier (or Circus cyaneus).  The reason for my repeatedly seeing them fly to the ground in that area is that they actually nest on the ground.  This past weekend I borrowed my wife’s 500mm once again and stealthily made my way to beneath a tamarack tree 50 or so yards from where I’d previously seen them disappear to the ground.  After about 90 minutes of waiting and searching the sky, Mr. Harrier (pictured above) emerged from the undergrowth and took to the skies in search of breakfast.

Female Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) in flight

Later that afternoon I made a return trip thinking they’d be coming off the nest to hunt once again and sure enough, out came the misses (pictured right).  She’s a fair bit larger than her husband and darker in color.  Both are incredibly beautiful raptors, however.  With their large eyes positioned more toward the front of their head (like an owl), and their acute sense of hearing they are very formidable hunters. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen them in the neighborhood (likely the first they’ve nested here though).  My wife captured some great images of them hunting in the field a few years ago.

Photo by Lisadawn

Photo by Lisadawn

We’re really excited about their moving in next door and hope to document more of their adventures from afar as the summer progresses.

Female Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus

Until next time, keep click’n.



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