1-16-11 backyard count..

Well, not MY backyard, but my daughter and I did a “count” of sorts.

We were out of town this weekend, and on the way back I noticed something. A TON of hawks. All kinds. Red-tailed, Red-Shouldered, Coopers, even some Kestrels. It was crazy nuts.

I grew up in a rather rural area of southeastern Kansas. We had always seen hawks. But, something lately has allowed a huge population boom to take place. On the way home, we counted 91 hawks of various kinds. This was an extension of a game I played as a kid when riding in the car………before DVD players, cell phones, and portable video games like Nintendo DS. We just made shit up to pass the time, as I’m sure you did.

Well, we used to see a hawk about every mile or so. It was if they had defined territories. You would see a hawk on a fence post (another story about this in a minute), if you saw it first you got a point, and you could look around at other stuff…because you knew that you wouldn’t see another hawk for another minute or so. You would look up in a minute, knowing a hawk was coming up, and bingo….there he would be. It got rather predictable.

These days, I have notice more of them in tree tops, etc. Winter is a great time to see them, too. I suppose it’s partly because there are no leaves in trees, making them easier to spot. But, it could also be that they are closer to highways looking for easy scavenging meals. But, anyway, we seem to see more sitting around during the winter.

So, today, I was driving home and started seeing WAY more than usual. Remembering my daughter’s recent interest in birds, too, I asked her to join me in the front seat to help me count them. I knew the number was going to be high. We started seeing them all over the place. So much for defending territories. Some of them were sharing a branch of a tree!

My hometown is about an hour and a half west of Joplin, MO, into Kansas. Along that hour and a half drive from Independence to Joplin, my daughter and I counted 91 hawks. I really thought we would crack 100, but it wasn’t to be today. Still, my daughter and I had a blast counting the hawks. And, she started taking notice of farms, fields, and other types of scenery like little ponds and creeks, too. Finally, a way to get their heads off the videos and see what a different part of the country has to offer!

The funny thing about hawks and eagles when driving through a rural area? If you find a really rural part, you can scare a hawk off his post. It’s rare today because the fences are farther off the roads than they used to be. But, when I was a kid, about 1980-1984ish, we would buzz past a hawk sitting right there off the shoulder on a post. We would honk the horn just as we whizzed past him and watch him fall to the ground. Those birds are so big they can’t flap those heavy wings fast enough to get airborn from only 4 feet up, especially when they are scared shitless for the first second. By the time they can react and fly it’s just too late. If you don’t believe me, next time you are in a old and rural area with fencelines right up against the road, try it. You will see they fall like a sack of potatoes right to the ground. If you don’t laugh when you get one, I think there must be something wrong with you. Because, even today, it cracks me up. I guess I am really just a big kid after all.

Keep Chuggin’!


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