Red-shouldered hawks are year-round residents here in southeastern Ohio. We see and hear them regularly—they are one of the most vocal raptors, especially in spring. And that's how we discovered this nest, by hearing the repeated calling between the mates. My mom, Elsa, and brother Andy noticed one of the hawks carrying a branch up to an elbow of this giant sycamore, grabbed some binocs and discovered the foundation of a nest being built on that spot. After that we'd hear the birds and note their occasional comings and goings, but they never stayed near the nest for very long. We actually started wondering if this was just a dummy nest—the real nest being somewhere else—perhaps somewhere more concealed.
We worried a bit about the nest. It's plainly visible two-thirds of the way up the sycamore on one of only two large branches that jut out from the tree's right side. We have lots of squirrels around (notorious egg eaters), plus plenty of raccoons, American crows, and both barred and great horned owls nearby. Any one of these creatures could consumer the eggs or young while the parents were away. Worry. It's what parents do.
I've been out of the office for most of the past two months trying to finish the writing on a book project. I come in on Tuesdays for staff meeting and to catch up on office work. Yesterday was one of my in-office Tuesdays and I was very happy to see that the red-shouldereds were actively attending the nest. In fact I'm certain there's an egg or two in it now. I've watched the adults take turns on the nest. Yesterday afternoon the male (he seemed smaller than the female, as male raptors often are) swooped low over the BWD parking lot and up to the nest to deliver a mouse to his mate. She clambered up from her position on the nest brooding the eggs (we hope—we can't see into the nest—it's a bit too high), took the food offering and swooped away. He then very gingerly adjusted something in the bottom of the nest and settled down onto it facing in the opposite direction his mate had been facing. She stayed away for more than an hour before we heard her cries keeyah, keeyah, keeyah! And back she came to resume her incubation duties.
Now it's Wednesday morning and the female is standing near the nest. The male is circling overhead, calling to her. She looks up, perhaps noting that he's got no food this time, and settles back onto the nest.
This is just such a thrill and a privilege to be witnesses to the home life of these wonderful birds! Tomorrow I'm bringing my scope for some digiscoping images!