Monday, July 20, 2009
The World of the Gos
I recently had the supremely rare opportunity of accompanying a bird bander and researcher to a Northern Goshawk nest site in Northern Colorado (sorry I can't be any more specific than that.) Usually, Goshawks let you know when you get too close to their nests by screaming and strafing you, with about the only good option being to retreat. Surprisingly, though, this pair was very mellow, with the researcher reporting only one close flyover and generally no more than curious onlooking on visits to check on the progress of the chicks. For this reason, the researcher thought that bringing in a photographer wouldn't stress the birds, and for that I'm extremely grateful. On my visit, the female (told by the heavier reddish barring on the underparts) flew in from nearby as we neared the nest but just perched down in the shady understory for a bit before flying up to the sunny top of a tall lodgepole pine. It stayed up there where it could see us and the nest at the same time, never vocalizing or looking agitated, and eventually started napping! Now that's mellow behavior for any raptor, especially one with the fierce reputation of a Goshawk. I suspect the male was around too, but we never saw him during our visit. The chicks were ripping at some prey item between bouts of resting, so I think the pressure was off the adults to deliver more food for a while and they were just taking it easy. The nest held two new Goshawks, one just beginning to explore a nearby branch. Within a week of this visit I'm told they had left the nest tree and had disappeared into the forest- I'm glad I made it in time to see this amazing sight.