Spring is in full swing, flowers are blooming, animals are courting…and fierce battles for territory are being waged all around.
Yesterday, I watched a rock-em-sock-em, no-holds-barred battle in the sky! It started with a Red-tailed Hawk flying over Venetucci Farm, with what looked like nesting material in its talons. I had seen a pair in a dead tree earlier and even had one “scream” at me. All this added up to a nest somewhere nearby, probably in the top of a Cottonwood tree, in the riparian forest along Fountain Creek.
While contemplating this tranquil scene there was a sudden blur of white and black as a Swainson’s Hawk dove at the Red-tailed. The Red-tailed quickly flipped upside down, in mid-air, with talons stretched upwards towards its attacker. The aerial “dog fight” continued as after a few more dives by the Swainson’s Hawk, a second Swainson’s joined the attack. The two then took turns diving at the Red-tailed which was kept on the defensive.
After a couple of minutes of this onslaught a second Red-tailed seemed to appear out of nowhere and the Swainson’s Hawks drifted away. I finally located the stick nest atop a Cottonwood tree and this morning a hawk was sitting on it with its head barely protruding. Red-tailed or Swainson’s, that is the question.
Red-tailed Hawks have dominated the air space over Venetucci with Swainson’s Hawks only making guest day hunting appearances. Raptors are very territorial so most likely this battle was a fight for a territory in which to hunt and raise young. With at least three active raptor nests to monitor, at least two occupied by Red-taileds, it will be must see reality TV as this drama unfolds!