The hawks vs. the caracaras

No ,these aren’t the local sports teams. This is often a deadly game for the young hawks and happens every year about this time. The hawks are small birds.  We’ve had a pair nesting in our yard at least the past 2 years. They did not use the same nest as last year though as they moved 3 trees over this year. They don’t seem to migrate as I see them year round. They are very common here. This photo was taken last year from the nest in our yard. Sadly, the caracaras showed up just as he was fledging last mid-November (2013) and the poor little guy did not make it. This year’s baby may have made it. He seemed a little older when the caracaras showed up this year at the end of November. We found him in the garage hiding from the attack and he was a little more feathered out than last year’s chick. He was able to fly to a tree for cover where, I assume, his parent’s cared for him. I can always tell when the caracaras show up because all the local hawks, about 3 pairs, show up to drive off the intruders. They are noisy and the flight maneuvers as they dive bomb the intruders are quite spectacular(better than any Blue Angels Air Show!). hawk chick   This picture below is from arthurgrosset.com. This hawk is very similar in coloring to mine but mine is much smaller. I was worried about the hawks attacking my chickens but when one landed in the chicken yard, the chickens chased it off. It’s body size seems pretty small compared to the chickens and ducks. This is the Southern Caracara and he is about twice the size of the hawks. I don’t see them very often but they usually come in pairs. Last year, they came with their almost full grown chick though Wikipedia describes them as solitary. He is described as a “bold, opportunistic raptor” and I agree. They have even been known to raid nests but usually just enjoy a good rotten carcass though I have never seen them at one as it’s usually just the black vultures. Update – The next day, I saw the Southern caracaras in a tree next door. I think they were raiding another nest and then today I saw the hawk pair in our yard mating on the fence post. It makes me think they lost their fledgling chick or they would be too busy caring for it to start another egg.They were also landing on our sheep’s backs to pluck some wool for their nests. Sheep don’t mind at all! Update- I finally identified my hawk with the help of a young friend and he is not a hawk but a carcara falcon called the Chimango Carcara- in latin Milvago chimango – in spanish Tiuque. I am so happy to know this birds name. My book says they  forage in flocks though I have rarely seen this. Mine forages alone for scraps in my yard. Now he sets on my porch rail and waits for hand outs. I can’t resist leaving him scraps of food.

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