My wife and I were at the tail end of a road trip to three national parks this past weekend and stayed in a hotel in St George, Utah. I decided to get up early Saturday morning to drive out and check on the nest site. It was my first time back to the area since discovering the nest and I had to make at least one attempt to satisfy my curiosity about whether or not the hawks were successful in breeding. I had shared the location with wildlife officials so they could monitor the nest site. I sent emails on occasion to get updates, but I never got a confirmation that the hawks were successful breeders.
I had often thought about the pair of hawks over the past few months and Saturday presented a short window of opportunity for me. I knew their habits for feeding from my previous observations so I checked those locations at a specific time of day. It took less than 20 minutes to get my first look at an adult bird. I heard what I thought was a Spotted Sandpiper calling from a secluded location north of the adult hawk and ignored it. However, two minutes after walking away from the scene I slowly recalled the sound to my mind and it dawned on me that I was hearing a second Black-Hawk, not a Spotted Sandpiper. I backtracked to the location and kept my cover while creeping through young aspen and willow trees toward the calling bird.
Moments later I was enjoying my first observation of a juvenile Common Black-Hawk. It was proof of successful Black-Hawk breeding in Washington County, Utah. I can't express how delighted I was to see that bird. It looked just like I expected, just like the images I had studied and dreamed of seeing someday. The location of the bird's perch was fully shaded since the early morning sun was still behind a large hill when I captured the image below. Lighting wasn't ideal for capturing details, but I'm pleased to have this image to remember that unique experience and moment in time.
|Juvenile Common Black-Hawk #1 in Washington County, UT|
|Juvenile Common Black-Hawk #2 in Washington County, UT|
|Adult Common Black-Hawk in Washington County, UT|
Raised at Least Two Juveniles the Summer of 2014