Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Jekyll Island Beach 2012
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

R is for RAPTOR




The Rogue Speaks:

Well, it's Thursday already somewhere in the world, and time for Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday. Since the weather is beginning to warm, and my dog-children are anxious to get out back and lie in the sun, I thought I would treat you to one of the hazards of desert life--raptors!

You will note that I said "raptor" and not "rapture." I'm not quite ready for that just yet. And this isn't Jurassic Park, either--no velociraptors--just plan old everyday birds of prey.

Arizona boasts the most diverse selection of raptors in the continental United States. We have hawks, eagles, falcons, kites, owls, vultures, condors, and host an occasional visit by other birds of prey that just pass through on their way to their home in Mexico.

In Honey Bee Canyon, less than five miles from our house, one can find petroglyphs depicting Great Horned Owls who have made the canyon their home for hundreds of years. They are a little camera-shy, so I don't have many photographs of them, but they are there, nevertheless.

I frequently see hawks on our golf course. It's a virtual Hometown Buffet for them! The rabbit population explodes every spring, and the hawks get fat and sassy over the summer. Hawks also love Gambel Quail, whose babies are the size of walnuts--only an appetizer for a hungry hawk. I have seen hawks sitting on a branch working on a fresh kill. The Great Horned Owls like to take their catch to a nearby roof-top to dine.

The Red-tail Hawk in the painting above has an interesting story. She lives in the care of Raptors, Inc., a non-profit that rescues birds of prey that have been injured, with the goal of eventually setting them free and back into the wild. This particular lady lives with them permanently because she is blind in one eye. Birds frequently have mites in their feathers, and when they scratch with their talons, occasionally they will put their own eyes out.

No small animal is safe from the grasp of a raptor, and pet owners have to be very careful about letting their animal children outside. I kept finding owl feathers in our ramada, and convinced Rod that we should screen it in to protect our Precious girl, who was very small and very vulnerable. He readily agreed when we went out to have our coffee in the ramada one morning, and found a juvenile Great Horned Owl sitting up in one corner. He stayed with us while we drank our coffee, and Rod realized just how vulnerable Precious really was. Little Lizzy is even smaller, weighing in at only 4 pounds, and we have to stay close by her when she goes outside the screened area.

Only this week, I was sitting outside with one of our dogs, Mulligan, when a large Red-tail Hawk came flying in from the west, across our pool. He had seen only Mulligan's head peeking around the corner of our house and was heading straight for it until Mulligan stepped out and revealed his true size. The hawk pulled up short and flew up and over our wall. Had it been Little Liz out there, I shudder to think what might have happened.

The Arizona Sonoran Desert is certainly a beautiful and peaceful place to live, but you have to be very careful. Between the cacti, the snakes, and the raptors, someone just might get hurt!!!

48 comments:

Bruce Coltin said...

Have you ever seen a condor in flight? I have, and I will never forget it. Just magnificent.

Donnie said...

That was really very interesting. Glad you picked R for Raptor.

Judie said...

Bruce, I have not, but I did have an experience with a hawk that I will never forget. I was playing golf in Memphis at our old course, standing on a tee box waiting to hit, when a Red-tail Hawk flew over my head, and down toward the green. As I gazed at him, suddenly I felt as if I WAS him. I could feel feathers ruffling from the breeze, and my wings trying to balance with the headwind. The experience only lasted for a few seconds, but it is something I will always remember.

nothingprofound said...

Used to see a lot of eagles and hawks when I lived out on Benson Highway in the 70s. Don't know what that area is like now, but it was pretty deserted back then. Very little development. Magnificent creatures.

Karen S. said...

You live in one of the most beautiful parts of our country....stunning photos...and funny you mention raptors and of course snakes come to mind in AZ....when growing up I used to visit my grandpa in Florence, Az (not the prison) but close....and in all my visits...and long walks and just playing around the desert, often in sandals, really...I only got bit once by an ant of sorts...guess I behaved well enough the old snakes didn't care I was there...although once one came up my grandfather's shower drain....when I was there...eeekkkk!

Anna said...

This was very interesting. I really enjoyed reading about the raptors in your area. When I worry about the cats being outside on the farm, I am mostly thinking of lynxes, badgers and foxes, four-footed predators. I haven't really given birds of prey that much thought. But it is possible for an owl to carry off a small kitten.

But all in all, I think we live in a 'kinder' environment here in Sweden. The cold climate makes life hard for everyone, including predators!
Thanks for sharing! (I'm going tell my cat, Sara, to read your post! She is very interested in all aspects of nature.)
Best wishes,
Anna
Anna's AT-rd-2-R: 'R is for Red Jewellery'

JJ said...

Judie: That is absolutely fantastic - you have a golf course!

I have seen Chilean Condors in flight in the Andes, and they are majestic.

Teresa said...

Certainly scary! It sounds as dangerous as a horror story.

Jingle said...

unique take on R.

cute images.
Cheers.

Jingle said...

the first word of your blog title also starts with R,

you can link in your blog link as a whole for another entry,

kidding, smart take.
thanks for the comments made in my blogs.

you rock.

Bruce Coltin said...

Judie, Your description of how the hawk made you feel is similar to mine with the condor. These birds are actual dinosaurs, and who knows what primeval feelings they are capable of awakening in us.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

JDaniel is big into bird these days. He would love to see the big birds that fly by your yard.

Magyar said...

Judie,
__I'm a fan of all birds. We have Red Tails here too.
__During the summers at our pond, Kathy and I -leave- certain food stuffs available for our summer friends. Chipmunks, bird feeders, squirrels, ducks... rabbits and more.
__Last summer, birds at the feeders, a squirrel at the corn wheel, and 'munks at the deck just inches away from us. In an instant... all of them vanished; the only alarm...that unbelievable speed with which they departed. Without sound a Red Tail grasped a treetop... not forty feet away.

survival
instinct of the senses
down the hole

__Love the painting... and the write.
_m

Sarah said...

Some sort of big bird almost hit, but missed, my kitchen window once when chasing a small bird. It was such an awesome view with its wings fully spread in front of my eyes I forgot to duck. I would worry about my baby as well if I were you. Great painting of the hawk!

Honey at 2805 said...

Interesting take on "R". I too am a bird lover and for the past several years have had alot of hawks around. I always enjoy visiting your blog as it is like taking a walk through an art gallery.

Cheryl D. said...

Hawks hang out by my house a lot. I love watching them and the ravens have their turf battles. It's really fun to watch.

I need to get a life! LOL

Natasha said...

I have been to Arizona and was scared when I heard coyotes. I don't think I would cope seeing much else after reading this!

Best wishes,
Natasha.

marisworld said...

Oh my god he went for the dog!!! That is scary. I have visited Arizona and I loved it, one day I shall return but I'll be aware of the raptors now :)

Talha said...

Beautiful places always have their own hazards. I loved the part when Mulligan revealed his true size & the hawk pulled away.

And thanks for visiting my blog and yes we can both learn about each other's countries. Well as far as sentiments of Pakistanis are concerned we are not at all against USA or American people. Though we sometimes hate US Government for her bossy and biased attitude. :)

★Mumsy★ said...

I didn't know that small dogs are in danger with the raptors. This was interesting to read. Snakes and lizards scare me enough already..

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

We have these birds in Florida, too, including Eagles and Osprey who fish by my house. I saw an Eagle snatch a fat duck from an apartment complex pond once, right in front of people Could easily have been a pet, so yes, watch the little ones! and The petroglyph owl's pretty awesome.

Mary said...

I've always been fascinated by raptors! We have Osprey that nest in our cove & I always enjoy watching the nesting & fishing they do. The have also left the undesirable muskrat remains & fish parts on our dock on occasion.

mle said...

Sounds like your golf course has all kinds of traps!! Yikes!

Saelen said...

I'm wicked jealous. I love seeing the large hawks that fly over our house. The other morning I was out at 5am driving around with some coffee and an owl flew across the road and landed in a nearby tree. I stopped and took it in for quite a while. It was the first owl I had ever seen in the wild. That was a good day.
We're blogging on The Guys' Network dot com now. See ya!

Debbie Moore at Slice of Pie Entertaining and Cookbooks said...

Thanks for visiting my site ... Love your R post ...

SuKnitWitty said...

Raptors in Arizona....hmmmmm glad we don'e have them here in Desert West Texas. Snakes are bad enough and at certain times of the year the Tarantula's are even scarier although less harmful! Really Riviting R Post! Yikes!

askcherlock said...

You are so right about these Raptors, Judie. There was a hawk that nearly killed a neighbor's dog two years ago. The dog barely survived. Last year we saw the remains of a rabbit in our yard then we noticed the hawk in the tree, standing guard over it. Your advice should be heeded about our pet children.

Jackie said...

Ohh so you call the owls raptors?

Even raptors need their rest lol

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

We have quite a few birds of prey here also, hawks, eagles, etc. They are so beautiful, but I know they would have no problem picking up a little dog and well, how awful would that be?

I don't worry about my horses, lol, but the dogs are a whole 'nuther story.

NanE said...

Great post Judie! We live about 10 mins fom the International Center for Birds of Prey. We have a red-tailed hawk that lives on our property. I often see him catching frogs in the pond.

paige said...

Ouch! Imagine putting their own eyes out. Yikes. Love this post. Birdies. :)

Francisca said...

Well done, Judie... learned a new R word, too... I've seen hawks, eagles, vultures... but guess I'm otherwise not aware of a lot of raptors in my life! Another potential "ouch" in your neck of the desert are the tarantulas... have met a few of those, eyeball-to-eyeball.

Gattina said...

What a dangerous post so early in the morning with my first cup of coffee, lol !
You are the first writing about raptors, nobody so far wrote about rape ;) !

Lola said...

Great Alphabe-Thursday post! Have a great weekend and see you again soon,

XOXO Lola:)

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Until I read your piece, I've never thought of owls as raptors. Just wise old looking things that go hoo. Every time I come visiting, I know I'll come away with something new in my head. Thanks, Judie.

myorii said...

How interesting! When I first saw the title of this post, I immediately thought that you were going to talk about velociraptors since that's what usually comes to mind for me. I never knew that there were birds called raptors too! Wow, Arizona does indeed sound like quite a dangerous place to be if you were a small animal! Those raptors sound pretty scary if you ask me!

Y. Ikeda said...

Occasionally our cats behave like a raptor when they are really hungry and find a yummy bait! Great "R" entry:)

House Revivals said...

You have to be so careful to keep your pet babies out of the food chain. Between the birds and the coyotes, are little domesticated babies can be so vulnerable!
~Amanda

Judie said...

We have other issues as well--bobcats and mountain lions. We have had both in our yard. I've never had a coyote in my yard that I know of, but I see plenty of them on the golf course!!

Jen said...

The Sonoran Desert is beautiful. My daughter and I visited when she was around 7. When I told her it was a desert she didn't quite believe at first, because there is so much life.

Lourie said...

Wow...that would be scary and completely awesome all at once.

hip-chick said...

Oh raptors are such strange birds. Majestic and graceful...but kind of an icky diet.

EG Wow said...

Excellent post. I didn't know Arizona has so many raptors and I'm glad you've screened the ramada to protect your little pals!

CRISTINA said...

Most pets are at risk where I live too. We have wolfs, coyotes, foxes, hawks, etc. My Macaw was almost taken away by a hawk from my own hands!

Jenny said...

This was a ridiculously wonderful link to Alphabe-Thursday's letter "R".

I have always been fascinated with raptors...and intriqued by velociraptors (ever since I watched that island of the dinosaurs movie - whose name eludes me at the moment...sigh)

I learned some new facts here today that I will impress someone with someday quite soon!

Thanks for linking, Miss Judy.

You are really amazing.

A+

Splendid Little Stars said...

intriguing post! You do live in a lovely part of the world.
We have woods behind our house. One of our neighbors' small kitten was sitting in a window facing the woods, when a bird (do not know what kind) swooped in. The screen stopped it.

Tammy said...

Interesting post! Very cool petroglyph picture. Am so glad you saved your furry baby! :-o

PERMANENT POSIES said...

Yikes! My little 6 pound toy poodle would be a tasty little snack. We have to be careful of the coyotes, wild hogs, bobcats...when we let the dogs out at night. No flying predators though.