Hawks’ Interaction a Mystery

The source of the commotion was unmistakable. Some screaming hawks were nearby so I grabbed the nearest, telephoto-equipped camera and traced the sound to our next door neighbors’ rooftop.  The first shot below was the most dramatic I captured in two or three minutes of activity that I still don’t fully understand.

But, let’s back up a bit. It had started out with a lone, adult hawk perched at the roof’s peak. Others, including a youngster, circled overhead.

Eventually, the young one descended and began to flap and strut for the benefit of its elder. At least it seemed so.  I saw no real physical contact between the two and concluded this must be a conversation of sorts rather than a serious confrontation.

After several minutes, calm prevailed.

Then, without further ceremony, both flew off together.

I shared this series of pictures with an expert on such birds and he generously replied: “They are red shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus) which is the second most commonly noted hawk in the east (second to the red tailed hawk).  They are quite social and often very noisy especially when young are involved.  The birds in the picture are interesting.  The perched bird is an adult.  The one flying is in juvenile plumage but doesn’t appear to be a hatch year bird.  I guess this because of the broken feathers on the tail (retrices) and the molt pattern on his wings.  Again, they are a very social bird that we see flying together and calling loudly.  Not sure what the individual dynamic is between these two birds but the perched one doesn’t seem to be too bothered.”