This Red-tailed hawk perched on the rocks out back and watched Boo the cat, who was enjoying a supervised breath of fresh air. Boo was oblivious to the predator, intent instead on a wily lizard hiding in the chive patch. What a plump and juicy treat Boo would be! Red-tailed hawks eat mostly rodents, but also squirrels, and rabbits, taking prey up to 5 pounds. (Boo weighs much more!) They also hunt other birds, snakes, and lizards. A Red-tailed hawk is one of the largest of the raptors, yet weighs only about 3 pounds.
We all observed each other with great interest. I watched the hawk through my camera lens, the hawk leveled its binocular-keen eyesight on the cat, who peered into the chives for the lizard. Boo finally gave up on the little reptile, safely hidden in its herby jungle, and I put him back in the house. The Red-tailed hawk flew to find more suitable prey.
A sprawling platform nest rests on a high ledge in the canyon near here, and a pair of Red-tailed hawks performs aerial acrobatics at mating season each year. Although Red-tails mate for life, the male woos his female every spring. I see them circling together higher and higher until they disappear in the sky. At some point in the mating dance the male drops from above and touches the female on the back with his talons. Sometimes Red-tailed hawks actually grasp each other’s talons and plummet together towards the earth, gracefully pulling out of the fall with wind whooshing through feathers.