It’s only January, but there is romance afoot in my back yard. Two of my neighborhood’s red-shouldered hawks are courting. My garden’s PVC pipe cages that later will support netting over the blueberries is a prime place for their getting-to-know-you conversations. Mr. Hawk just whispered some sweet nothing into Ms. Hawk’s ears and flew to the top of the hickory tree at the back of my yard. Ms. Hawk is waiting for him to return with whatever he promised.
Red-shouldered hawks are monogamous and mate for life. I don’t know if these two have exchanged vows yet. I’ve not seen them sitting side-by-side since the morning I took this picture. And so far, there’s no sign of nest building. But Mr. Hawk is always near, keeping watch when Ms. Hawk investigated something that looked tasty on the ground just two feet from my back door. Today she watched me play harp from her perch on a branch of the crape myrtle that’s outside my practice room windows, while Mr. Hawk kept to the taller trees where he could overlook the entire back yard. The back yard’s chickadees, robins, mockingbirds, and cardinals generated a cacophony of alarm calls every time he took wing.
I am delighted to be sharing my garden with these magnificent birds. The circle of life feels stronger and sharper with their presence. My garden space, this half-acre lot, these trees, belonged to their great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents long before human beings claimed what was forest and rich farmland for houses. I feel more embedded in the proper order of things, knowing that the hawks are here to claim what is theirs.