Redtail Rain

Redtail Rain

I like to spend each Christmas morning at Ridgefield and in 2012 kept the tradition by making my first visit to the refuge in many months. It poured as I drove out in the dark so I was thankful to be in my new Subaru XV Crosstrek as it handles the rain much better than my previous car. The young redtails at the refuge sometimes hang out on the signs at the edge of the meadow and if you’re quiet, will often let you drive close and watch to your heart’s content. This redtail was soaked through and through and gave me good looks at both its front and back as it kept its eye out for voles in the meadow, and when it turned its head just right let me take a self-portrait of the new car (you can see it reflected in the hawk’s eye).

No Blackberry Breakfast

Close-up of juvenile red-tailed hawk's face looking down

There’s an invasive species of blackberry that has spread across the Northwest and is prevalent at Ridgefield. A variety of animals will use the berries as food or the thickets as cover, but this young hawk was using it as a place to listen for breakfast, every sound from below drawing its eyes downward. It didn’t end up catching anything, at least not during our time together.

Hawk On A Stick

A close-up view of a young red-tailed hawk raising its head high while preening on the auto tour at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in February 2008

It’s not uncommon to see hawks perched at close range on the many signposts around the auto tour at Ridgefield — what I like to call hawks on a stick. I loved the pose when this preening redtail stretched its neck out to an unusually tall height. Young birds like this one often have pale brown eyes that will darken with age.