Hope & Healing Through Photography and Poetic Expression

Mars and Venus on a Perch

My photo today features a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks residing at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. The darker breasted hawk is female, and the paler breasted hawk is male. Both birds live at the refuge due to serious wing injuries (the female was hit by a car, and the male wounded in a hunting incident).

Together they seem to have found companionship as they live out their lives happily protected and safe at the refuge.

I found the following description of the Red-Tailed Hawks’ courtship & mating behavior very interesting — Enjoy!

 Red-Tailed Hawk Courtship and Mating

The Red-tailed Hawk reaches sexual maturity at two years of age. It is monogamous, mating with the same individual for many years. In general, the Red-tailed Hawk will only take a new mate when its original mate dies. The same nesting territory may be defended by the pair for years.

During courtship, the male and female fly in wide circles while uttering shrill cries. The male performs aerial displays, diving steeply, and then climbing again. After repeating this display several times, he sometimes grasps her talons briefly with his own. Courtship flights can last 10 minutes or more. Copulation often follows courtship flight sequences, although copulation frequently occurs in the absence of courtship flights.

In copulation, the female, when perched, tilts forward, allowing the male to land with his feet lodged on her horizontal back. The female twists and moves her tail feathers to one side, while the mounted male twists his cloacal opening around the female’s cloaca. Copulation lasts 5 to 10 seconds and during pre-nesting courtship in late winter or early spring can occur numerous times each day.

source: Wikipedia

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6 responses

  1. ski

    out of Rebecca’s mouth “Are those two birds married”

    February 22, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    • Love this! Did you read Rebecca the ‘story’ – or was that just from the photo?
      She is precious. Thanks for sharing!

      February 22, 2012 at 9:26 PM

  2. The sorrowful spirit finds rest when united with a similar one. They join affectionately, as a stranger is cheered when he sees another stranger in a strange land. Hearts that are united through the medium of sorrow will not be separated by the glory of happiness. Love that is cleansed by tears will remain eternally pure and beautiful. Kahlil Gibran, “The Broken Wings” You soar Robyn. xoxox Angelo (Book is on its way)

    March 3, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    • Awww.. Angelo I have read much by Kahil Gibran but don’t recall this one. It is perfect for this post – and actually for many of the other birds with wings no longer able fly freely in the wild! I will add this to my poetry section here on the blog and provide a link from this post!! Thank you!
      Book…only if you HELP! xxoo

      March 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM

  3. Jeannie

    Are you sure they aren’t lovebirds? 🙂 We have a variety of hawks here. These two are in a special place, that’s for sure!

    August 16, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    • I know – they looked like lovebirds to me!! 🙂 The hawks there must be beautiful! I do think it’s special at the wildlife preserve… the staff there are so devoted… I spent a lot of time there this winter. Very magical xo

      August 16, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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