Baby with their dinner
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After a 13 year gap, I rediscovered this family of Swainson’s hawks.

The following accounts sparked my years long admiration of these birds of prey.

This is their story (and mine) through my lens.

AUGUST 31, 2017
Have you ever just been in your house, minding your business and all of a sudden you hear something outside that you’ve never heard before… something… you think it’s an animal of some kind, making a very loud screeching noise… you run outside and can’t believe your eyes…

This is the story of our first close encounter with a family of Swainson’s Hawks in Calgary, Alberta.

What is going on? I ran outside with the little point and shoot camera (keep this in mind with regards to photo & video quality). There is a juvenile Swainson’s hawk on the road in the middle of our cul de sac, literally just meters from our front door. This not-so-small bird of prey is eating… in the middle of the road. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it at first either.

As this was happening, I did not even know what a Swainson’s hawk was nor that this was one.

But there’s also a lot of crying or calling just across from us – it’s another juvenile sitting on a fence. This one is crying almost constantly while the one eating cries out a little between bites. This whole dining adventure seems to go on forever and I’m not sure what I’m more surprised about: the fact that it took 30 minutes for this bird to eat its dinner; or the fact that not a single vehicle came around while it was eating.

Wow, what a cool thing to see. Now that it’s over, I can carry on with my day… oh, wait…

Just an hour after the first encounter started, there was another baby having their dinner in a slightly better location on the roof of a garden shed in a neighbour’s backyard.

But that’s not all…

An hour later, one of the juveniles was on a neighbour’s fence, talking away. I took a couple of videos with my iPhone 6s. This is probably the closest I will ever get to these raptors (and the closest I should ever want to be).

What an awesome day!

It’s just been a couple of days since our first amazing encounter with the hawks. And now one of the juveniles is in a neighbour’s tree and won’t stop talking/crying.

In the video (not the best quality and lots of camera zoom noise and wind) you can see (and hear) baby hawk. You can also definitely hear Mama hawk (this is 2023 me telling you this because 2017 me had no idea who Mama was).

Things seem to be a little calmer around here. We can go outside and walk in the alley without being yelled at by any hawks.

The young ones are out exploring their territory which includes the local playground and green space.

Papa hawk is keeping an eye on us. It’s important to note that in 2017, I’ve not yet learned who Papa and Mama really are – who is who or the roles they play.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
I’m noticing the babies more. They kind of blend in to their environment, especially if they’re not talking. You really have to look for them now – they might be on rooftops, in the grass or on power poles.

These are some of the last photos I took of the hawks in 2017.

Will I see them again next year?

In appreciation of how much these raptors grabbed my attention this year, I started a painting of one of the littles in about mid-September. I finally finished it in early November. It now has a permanent home on our garden shed.

2017 until next year…?
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