Date: 8/29/17 4:52 am
From: Stephen Johnson via va-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [Va-bird] amazing hawk experience, Fairfax

Hello birders,

I will try to capture for you here, the most amazing hawk experience of my life.

Yesterday afternoon I was on the phone, looking out the sliding glass door at the back yard. It's maybe 60 feet across, roughly circular, surrounded by tall trees - mostly tulip-poplar and swamp chestnut-oak, with a couple of "real" oaks and maples.

An adult Red-shouldered Hawk entered the yard from the trees at the right rear corner, at about 15-20 feet elevation, gliding slightly downward, almost straight toward me. As my eyes (inside the door) grew wider and wider, it continued straight, never flapped, and it seemed the bird was surely going to crash head-on into the side of the deck, 12 feet from me.

There was no time to do anything but watch. At the last split second, it opened its wings, and I could see its entire underside completely opened up wide. It turned its legs forward towards the deck, grabbed a rodent that was out of my view, turned, and flew right back.

The location of the "pounce" was about 12-13 feet out from my feet, and about 6 feet below my eyes.

The entire flight, grab, and return flight, were completely smooth, never a hesitation, like it had done it every day for years. A real expert. It carried away a rodent, probably a chipmunk, too small for a squirrel. A magnificently colored bird, rich orange-brown, striking black-and-white on the wings and tail.

I still have goosebumps this morning.

Steve Johnson
Fairfax, Virginia

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