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.
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