Mitch... thanks for the insights. I have seen quite a few
red-tailed hawks in this area but I don't have your experience with
hearing them daily. Very interesting. It had not occurred to me
that the hawk might be the one being harassed.
I should have said something about the spatial aspects... I was on
a trail in a 'river-bottom' valley, heavily forested in all directions.
I had the recorder pointed in the direction of the woodpecker and the
hawk call came from the right, maybe even 90 degrees to the location of
the woodpecker. Also, the hawk didn't seem to move; all of its calls
were from the same location. If the hawk was really as far right as
it sounded, it was not in the same location as the woodpecker (perhaps
100 feet away or more). Maybe a closer interaction had occurred
before and the birds had moved away from each other by the time I got
Thanks for sharing the photos and red-tail recording.
--- In Mitch Hill <> wrote:
> I can not say much about the woodpecker call other than to agree with
> you, it sure is agitated. However, I'm not sure its the hawk causing
> the woodpeckers agitation, the sound of the hawk is too low in level
> compared to the level of the calls of the woodpecker.
> Red tail hawks are one of my favorite raptors which is a good thing as
> where I live is a nesting area for Redtails and I listen to them
> overhead daily including standing in my driveway two weeks ago
> the amazing aerial acrobatics of mother Redtail teaching her young to
> catch their food in flight.
> Point is, this is a performance including lots of calling between
> and young that I hear daily, I can be working in the shop and will
> what I am doing to go outside to see what is the cause of the racket.
> In your recording I would fully expect the calls of the hawk to be as
> loud or louder than the calls of the woodpecker if the hawk were the
> cause of the agitation.
> However, its been my observations that there is one unusual
> that can cause the hawk to make softer than normal sounds and that is
> the Woodpecker was harassing the hawk. I see this condition here
> occasionally with half a dozen crows that share the area with the
> hawks. For the most part they leave each other alone however if a
> blunders into crow territory, the crows are unmerciful with their
> harassing of the hawk who will sit in a tree top and talk back to the
> crows with soft calls almost like he is apologizing for his or her
> transgression. Redtail hawks are amazing birds and I have come to the
> conclusion that they are not as bad an actor as many would suspect.
> Redtails seem to be willing to get along with all the other birds
> locally however are deadly on our mole and cotton tail population. As
> it is a single woodpecker, I do not think a Redtail would hang around
> submit to its harassing so I think this is unlikely the case. In part
> this is due to the size of a Redtail being about the same size as an
> eagle, its possibly the biggest of our hawks.
> Not so with Sharp Shin and Sparrow hawks, being smaller, they are the
> bird catchers in this area however I would suspect a Pileated
> is more bird than a Sharp Shin or a Sparrow Hawk wants to tangle with
> they are similar in size...
> If you are interested, in my collection of recordings, I have a short
> recording of the Redtails overhead:
> Photos that go with recording:
> Mitch Hill
> (Sent from HP DV6T)