21 January 2021

Redtails

Saturday, July 11th, 2020
Juvie (left) and adult Red-tailed Hawks, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 11 July 2020.
Juvie (left) and adult Red-tailed Hawks.

Few sounds in nature thrill me like the scream of a Red-tailed Hawk. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t heard it often (not counting in movies or on TV, where the sound is commonly—hilariously—used to represent vultures or eagles). Or maybe because it’s so unique, unmistakable, and ethereal: it’s not very loud, but it carries.

Since moving to Utah nearly a year ago, I’ve heard the cries of a redtails in the mountains three or four times—possibly as many times as I did in my two score years in Maine. [Aside: the Red-tailed Hawk is arguably the commonest hawk in North America.] Today, I got that thrill five or six times in a matter of a few minutes.

Over the past few days, I’ve spotted a young redtail down near the trailhead, hanging out on utility poles. It’s been quite vocal, but its voice is that of a young bird: a fast series of high-pitched squeals—nothing at all like the ethereal voice of an adult.

Today I saw juvie and adult together atop a pole. The former just sat there, squealing occasionally; the latter repeatedly released its inimitable cry.

“Flyyy!” it seemed to say. “Flyyy!”

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8:15 a.m., I hiked some 1,200 feet up a mountain.

1. Black-headed Grosbeak
2. Mourning Dove
3. Lazuli Bunting
4. Black-capped Chickadee (v)
5. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay (v)
6. Black-chinned Hummingbird
7. House Finch**
8. Spotted Towhee
9. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
10. American Robin*
11. Red-tailed Hawk
12. Rock Pigeon*
13. Black-billed Magpie*
14. Broad-tailed Hummingbird*
15. Warbling Vireo
16. Golden Eagle
17. Turkey Vulture
18. Northern Flicker (v)
19. Song Sparrow (v)

Elsewhere

20. Eurasian Collared Dove
21. California Quail

Mammals

Rock Squirrel

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

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Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson



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