One morning last week, while I sat at the drawing table, the excited calls of three crows drew my attention to the tree line across the road. To me, it meant they were giving someone a hard time and I immediately remembered the young Red-tailed Hawks were about to fledge. I grabbed up the binoculars and made my way up the path on the west hill so I could look across the valley and into the hawks' nest. Sure enough, the two young Red-tailed Hawks, who were in the nest yesterday, had finally fledged. The crows were still cawing in the leafy branches a hundred yards from the nest. They no doubt had found one of the young hawks and were introducing themselves to him with their loud voices.
The new Red-tailed Hawk fledglings will spend most of the summer in the area under the watchful eye of their parents. There's much to learn, and so much to be aware of. They must build their strength to enhance their ability to be able to catch something to eat. Many of the things that need to be learned to insure their survival, they already know--it's called "instinct." Nonetheless, the young hawks must also be physically in tune with their natural instincts to be able to make a living.
There are lots of good things for the new hawks to eat. Their parents will bring them food each day for a few weeks, but slowly, the youngsters will find enough to eat on their own. A hungry young Red-tail will try to catch any small thing that moves. Large insects are good targets; june bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, and with luck, a small snake or frog. They quickly learn that putting a toad in their mouth can be a bad experience, but it is part of the learning process. Their hunting skills must be a little sharper to be able to catch chipmunks, mice, voles and tiny, quick young rabbits. With luck, by fall they will be good enough hunters to be able to take the challenge when the frost comes and eliminates all the snakes, frogs and insects. They won't be considered seasoned hunters until they survive the winter.
I hear lots of stories from people who tell me how much they enjoy working outside in their gardens in the early morning. It's hard to beat being part of the beginning of each new day, the fresh, cool morning air and the wet dew on the grass along with the songs of the birds as they greet the warming sun. This morning I stood next to a Honeysuckle vine and watched a beautiful male Ruby-throated Humming Bird darting from blossom to blossom. It was six a.m. and a chilly 45 degrees, and I could see my breath.
The truth is, I find being outside at dusk just as enjoyable as the dawn of the day. When I farmed, I always enjoyed cultivating corn from a tractor seat as the sun set around me. It was also my favorite time of day to be out along a favorite trout stream, standing in the lush grass with fireflies all around and a brookie breaking the fresh water stream. Enjoying nature at the beginning or end of each day is only a walk away.
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