Sunday, February 12, 2006

News from the hawk front - a threesome!

Our walk in Sabino Canyon this morning was delayed for a few minutes when I noticed the hawks copulating again (or so I thought).

When I got to the tree, I saw three hawks. I've only seen a pair in this location in past years. I'm assuming the larger bird on the left is the female and the other two are males, but I'm a neophyte when it comes to bird identification, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

After a few minutes, the one took off.

When we got back from our walk, I searched the Internet to find out if this was normal behaviour for Red-tailed Hawks. I could only find three relevant references: Three Adult Red-Tailed Hawks Attending a Nest, [Wiley, J. W., 1975, Condor 77: 480-482] and Parental Care at a Red-Tailed Hawk Nest Tended by Three Adults, [Santana, E.C., Knight, R. L., and Temple, S.A., 1986, Condor: 88, 109-110]. In both cases, these papers describe two females and one male. Another reference is to Red-Shouldered Hawks: Observations on Female Promiscuity in the Red-Shouldered Hawk, [McCrary, M.D. and Bloom, P.H., The Condor: 88, 109-110, The Cooper Ornithological Society, 1986], which of course involves a female and two males.

I'd be very grateful to anyone who can shed some light on what's happening here and if it's common among Red-Tailed Hawks. Thanks!

3 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Pam-- I did a little hunting on the internet and at the Cornell University website, and I couldn't find an answer. Such an interesting question. We saw a red-tailed hawk today at the beginning of our walk, and then again at the end. Both times it took off and eluded our camera. Your photographs are lovely.

Pam in Tucson said...

R.D. - Thanks for the research. This evening only two hawks are there, but one may be off hunting. It will be interesting to see if the third hawk stays around.

Pam in Tucson said...

t.beth (Firefly Forest blog) suggested to me that the second male might be one of the offspring from last year who hasn't found a mate and who has come back to help tend the nest. In the last couple of days, I've only seen one hawk near the nest at any one time. I don't know if there are still two males there.