What was supposed to be a short hike through Winakee Nature Preserve after a late breakfast almost turned into an all afternoon affair.
Throughout the entire hike, my fiancee and I kept hearing a red-shouldered hawk crying out. We didn’t think much of it other than it being pretty cool to hear. A short while later, a second red-shouldered hawk being to cry, followed by a third! It sounded like we triggered some sort of alarm during the hike.
Abruptly, all three hawks went silent and after a few minutes we continued our hike. Suddenly, a new call rang through the woods… ‘who cooks for you, who cooks for you all’!
A barred owl called out pretty close to us, so my fiancee did her best impersation and he responded a second time! Within seconds, the three red-shouldered hawks began loudly vocalizing again and this time, they showed themselves. As I was watching the hawks, my fiancee said she saw the barred owl take off deeper into the woods. We never heard from him again, but the hawks continued to circle and screech at us.
We ended up staying most of the afternoon looking and listening, but once the hawks went silent again, we didn’t hear or see much more. I reached out to local birders to make sense of the events. I was told that both barred owls and red-shouldered hawks can share the same habitat, and because the owls may try to steal nestlings at night, they are seen as a threat. You learn something new everyday! The full sighting list from the hike is below:
- Mallard (flew overhead)
- Red-shouldered Hawk
- Barred Owl (my fiancee saw him briefly fly through the trees)
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker (heard only)
- Eastern Phoebe (heard only)
- American Crow (heard only)
- Black-capped Chickadee
- Tufted Titmouse
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Song Sparrow
- Northern Cardinal
- Green Frog
- Eastern Chipmunk