RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Perched high atop a thorny ebony in the coastal ranch lands of deep South Texas, this White-tailed hawk has just arrived with prey for two offspring. Dropping down into the large bundle of sticks lined with grass, the hawk scans the horizon for any hint of danger before beginning to feed the young.
A raptors extraordinary vision is some eight times more powerful than humans, and the hawk is exceptionally aware of movement with very little escaping its penetrating gaze.
Detecting no imminent threat, the adult bends to prepare the small mouse for the two hungry youngsters. With its sharp beak the bird deftly tears the rodent and gently offers morsels.
One of the two young hawks is noticeably larger than its sibling, and at first it seems to get all the meat, but the parent is careful to make sure the younger one gets its fair share.
Suddenly, the feeding is interrupted with the arrival of the mate, who soars in with a branch to add to the nest. This triggers the departure of the other parent, and after careful consideration the new branch is added to the nest in a strategic location. The feeding duties are now taken over by the newly arrived adult.
The female and male white-tailed hawks have similar plumage with the female normally being slightly larger, but with this pair the difference is difficult to discern. Together, the pair will care for their offspring for several more weeks before they are ready to fledge.