Bookended with buteos

13 September, 2020            Bookended with buteos

Wait! If you enjoyed last week’s post A squirrel told me my mother was a “miracle worker”, take a second look (just click on it). Go to the bottom to the “comments” section. A bunch of you wrote really, really nice comments, and I’m always grateful for comments. But the final one is from one of her friends in Mexico, and it’s really, really moving. It describes her to a T! Actually – I didn’t ask Sergio’s permission, I hope he won’t mind – I’m going to reproduce it here. It was so moving: [[Hello Jay,
I’m very surprised of the opinion of this paramedic, and that your Mom, our very beloved Judy, had three of this pins. But at the same time, I do believe your mom was pretty surprising. Every year that she came back to us in Cuernavaca, she would do amazing things, not only at home, but moving around the hole territory, coming and going, and meeting people, making friends all around! You knew, she would climb on any public transport and go everywhere, building a great friendship with driver, to know everything about everywhere! She was a real friendly squirrel and nothing would stop her from visiting, knowing places and meeting people, and, of course, having a great fun around Cuernavaca.
You made my day thinking of her, today!
Thank you very much, Jay! GOD bless you and all the family,
from Mexican Family,
Seva Sergio]]. 

What a beautiful, beautiful comment. Thank you Sergio! GOD bless you and all of your family too! 

  • Jay  

Most raptors I see are “buteos.” When I google “buteo,” the first response says “a bird of prey of a group distinguished by broad wings that are used for soaring.” In my raptor watching experience here in central Virginia, that means either a Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) or a Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus). I photographed the former on Monday morning at 10:38 AM and the latter today at 9:34 AM. One at each end of the week! Here’s the Red-tail I saw Monday morning on the side of the road at (approximately) the intersection of Three Chopt Road and Ridgefield Road in western Henrico County, VA: 

Young Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on the side of Three Chopt Road Monday morning:

My friend Ray and I were driving past Monday morning and it was standing on the side of the road and a woman was standing near it. The woman looked unsure of herself so we stopped and visited. She (the woman, not the hawk) was from Moldova! Do you know a lot about Moldova? I didn’t. Her English wasn’t good (though far better than my Moldovan) and she wasn’t certain she’d alerted the proper authorities. Fortunately for the hawk, she had. 

Moldova is landlocked and two million people live there. Romania is to the west and Ukraine is on the other three sides. The Black Sea is fifty miles south. I felt so ignorant after talking with her I had to go home and learn about Moldova. I’m glad she saved the hawk! 

While we were talking, the hawk was standing quietly by the side of the road. From what I gathered, she’d seen it get hit by a car but not hard. A neighbor came out with a shovel (I was told) and scooped up the hawk and got it to the side of the road. The hawk was big; I think it was a female. When we got there, it looked like a football player that just got his “bell rung” as they say. She didn’t look physically injured but she looked confused and just a little disoriented. She was on the shoulder facing parallel with traffic but with her back to it. As she gathered her wits – you could see the confusion going away – she tentatively turn/hopped 90º to her right so her back was facing traffic and she was looking into a dense patch of woods beside the road. 

About this time, a Henrico Animal Protection Police truck pulled up on the side of the road and put on his flashing lights so traffic would give us a wider berth. I was grateful; it’s a narrow, busy spot. Here is a picture of the truck when it pulled up: 

Henrico Animal Police making sure all the people and hawks stay safe:

I’ve dealt with Henrico Animal Protection a lot through the years. They’ve always been helpful and professional and kind and this visit was no exception. The officer got out and looked at the bird and chatted with us for a few minutes. He said he’d take her to the vet. He went back to his truck and walked toward us carrying something similar to this, a good size for the hawk: 

I use these to take my cat to the vet but they’d work fine for an injured hawk:

When the officer was halfway between his truck and the hawk, the hawk decided she felt healthy enough to depart unassisted and flew deep into the woods looking healthy and energetic. “Well, that’s what we always hope for” the officer said, and returned to his truck. Problem solved! Thanks to the first Moldovan person I’ve ever met! 

Half an hour later I was at Deep Run – pointing my camera at a skink! 

Late season skink at Deep Run:

Early every year I organize my race schedule. Since I don’t do Ironmans any more, it’s not  demanding. I had a couple of 5k’s scheduled this year and two sprint triathlons. Thanks to coronavirus, they all got cancelled! Since I wasn’t working much and my races were cancelled and the Y was closed (I couldn’t swim), I started riding my bicycle  several times each week at West Creek. On April 1 I rode 16.5 miles in the office park. Between then and August 31 I did a hundred of those rides! The Y opened back up on a limited schedule so I took a swim and it went well. So Monday (September 7) I reserved a lane in the pool for Tuesday morning at 9:00. I put my bike on top of my car and brought my running shoes with me and drove up Tuesday morning and swam a mile. What a treat! 

Beginning my first triathlon of the 2020 season:

After my swim I drove out to West Creek again and did another of my 16.5 mile rides. My 102nd 16.5 mile ride since April 1! Then I put my bike on top of the car, took off my bike shoes and put on my running shoes and “ran” (mostly walked) five kilometers (3.1 miles) – and completed my first “triathlon” of 2020! I didn’t get a t-shirt but I also didn’t pay an entry fee. And nobody finished ahead of me! 

In the transition area – switching from bike to run:

The butterfly turnout has been slender so far this year, at least outside my window. But Evelyn pointed out early this afternoon – we got our first 2020 Monarch caterpillar on the milkweed she planted! Check this beauty out: 

Monarch butterfly caterpillar on our milkweed. Nice work Evie!

Anyway, back to “bookended with buteos.” I began the week with a Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on the side of Three Chopt Road. When Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I pulled in the parking lot at Pony Pasture this morning, we had the windows wide open and we could hear crows mobbing before we even got to our parking space. In my experience, that could only have been an owl or a hawk. You cannot believe how loud they were. It could have been fifteen crows, maybe twenty. I could see the crows darting in and out of the trees – most of the leaves are still on – but I couldn’t see what was making them so irate. Finally I looked up and saw an adult Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) on a branch with an immature Red-shoulder perched two feet away. You can’t see the youngster’s face here, but this is the two of them together: 

Adult red-shoulder on the right, juvenile not very visible on the left

The mobbing had already been going on for some time before we walked up. The adult had enough and flew a few yards away. The youngster turned around and faced in the direction the adult had just flown. I took this picture just before it flew off to follow the adult: 

Young Red-shouldered hawk at Pony Pasture this morning; its parent had just left

Remarkable – according to the time stamps, this was before we saw the hawks. I’m always happy to be at the river with these three: 

Me, Mackey, Turner and Yuki at the river this morning

This picture is so much better – I have to include it too. This is as fine looking a group of animals as you’ll ever see: 

Mackey on the left, Turner in the middle, Yuki on the right – James River in the background.

Have a great week! Come back next week! All best, 


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, disability, Dogs, Emerson, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, James River, love, newfaze, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), triathlons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Bookended with buteos

  1. Pingback: Work in progress  | NEWFAZE

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