Today on Top Secret Washington

Red-shouldered Hawks Leave the Nest!

In this guest post, naturalist and bird expert Cecily Nabors continues her fascinating series on the wildlife in and around Washington, D.C.

Cecily Nabors

Last weekend when I went to look at the Red-shouldered Hawks’ nest near Bel Pre Elementary School, I saw only one youngster standing in the nest. IMG_1365The second one could have been hunkered down, or dead, or (nicest answer) fledged already. The young hawk I saw then was almost ready to fledge. It looked strong and fully decked out in juvenile plumage.IMG_1366

I apologize for the quality of the photos, as my camera was at full zoom and I had to crop a bit. But as you can see, the young hawk’s chest feathers feature dark streaks on a creamy background. In fact, they’re pretty streaky everywhere. Adult Red-shouldereds have the shoulder patch that gives them their common name, plus a finely barred and streaked reddish chest.

This weekend, the nest was empty, but there was lots of hawk activity . I never saw more than a hurtling body, but…

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