Various Thoughts And An Unexpected Bird

The last few days have been a little on the hectic-but-good side, what with getting home from the beach, driving to my hometown for all the wedding festivities, then coming back here and having some time to hang out with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews (much to our delight). Honestly, when I got out of bed yesterday morning it felt a little weird to not have anywhere to be / anything to do / anyone to see, but I’m grateful for a couple of days to recharge before the next wave of summertime crazy starts.

But none of that is the point, really, because internets, I need your help solving a nature-related mystery. A couple of minutes after I sat down to type this post, some sort of eagle-esque creature swooped down and landed on our deck (and I mean that very literally). I’m not very strong with the birds, which is why the first thing I did when I spotted the ginormous wing span angling for the deck railing was to say, “Alex! Come look! It’s an owl!”

Please don’t mock me.

Anyway, it keeps cleaning its feathers and calling other birds (it’s kind of a high-pitched call – definitely not a “hoot”), and now I’m wondering if it’s hurt or sick because it’s just sitting on the deck and not going anywhere. So basically I’ve now transferred all manner of co-dependency TO A BIRD. Is it lonely? Is it missing its bird people? Does it need medical attention? Should I alert the nature authorities?

Here’s what it looks like.

Thoughts? Advice? Ornithology tips?

The bird is still squawking, by the way. And sitting on the railing.

I’m terribly concerned.

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  1. It looks like a hawk, You may can find a falconer in your area (people who train and hunt with falcons/hawks) who can help you solve the “is he sick?” issue.

  2. Wow! He looks intimidating. I am just impressed that you used the word “Ornithology”. I don’t even know what that means. :)

  3. My first thought was a hawk, also. Rebecca’s advice sounds good to me. Or do you have a Department of Fish & Wildlife there? (My roots are in Alaska and that’s who I’d call, if I were back home).

  4. It’s either a red-shouldered or red-tailed hawk. I live in Huntsville, AL and we see them ALL the time!!! DO NOT get close to it. They’re moody things.

  5. While I have absolutely no idea what kind of bird it is, I do have an idea about who to contact. Last year a very small owl (like, he still had down feathers and his mother was nearby) was stuck in our backyard due to an injured wing. Because we have three large dogs, something had to be done for the little fella.

    My man suggested we (and by “we,” I mean me) call the zoo. Though I laughed at him, turned out he was right and they knew about a certified rehabilitationist in the area who would take care of him. So if you have a local zoo or animal shelter (that’s where we had to take him for the lady to pick him up), they may have the number of someone with bird knowledge. :-)

  6. This may freak you out further but I know that you and I live in the same general area of B’ham – yesterday I was bringing a friend of my girls home and I swear to you a bird just like this was flying back and forth between hanging baskets on someone’s front porch. I actually stopped my car and watched it! I wonder if it was your house??!!

  7. Its a peregrine falcon. So cool!!! Great picture! It probably lives around there. The feather thing is just its way of grooming itself. Nothing to worry about. It probably has found some good hunting in and around your neighborhood. It will hunt, kill and eat small rodents (like mice, baby squirrels) and small birds. Just leave it alone unless it becomes a nuisance. It will move on when its food source has been exhausted or he finds something better. I have a video of one in my backyard swooping down and killing/eating a smaller bird. Nature is just so impressive and it was really cool to be able to watch that up close. Enjoy nature in action and don’t sweat it! :)
    Amy in Austin, Texas

  8. I’d call the birmingham zoo…its possible that they might be able to either remove it or recommend someone who can. I think it looks like a hawk, but I am definitely NOT a bird expert.

    I just know that I would leave it alone. If it is injured, it would feel threatened if you approached it. If it is mating (and calling for a mate)…well…well- not a good idea to approach any animal that is trying to mate.

    In other words, I’d call the zoo darling.

  9. From my bird book, it looks like a dark morph of a red-tailed hawk. “The red-tailed hawks’ impressive piercing call is often misleadingly paired with the image of an eagle in TV commercials and movies.” Also, apparently during mating the males can have mid-air tumbles that mean one or both crashes into the ground. Could just be the result of avian testosterone.

  10. Well, hello, Jeff Corwin.


  11. Definitely a hawk.
    I have NO IDEA what you should do about it – just watch it I guess. Enjoy the “live” nature channel, I guess!

  12. BethPAtl says:

    I’m weighing in with Red-Tailed Hawk. Beautiful! He will rid your yard of varmits. Hope your dogs are large… =)

  13. I’d say some kind of hawk. Maybe you could call fish and wildlife. Tell them you think he’s in distress. I think it is odd for a predator bird to be so close to people in the daytime. Maybe there is a next nearby?

  14. In NJ we call the Dept of Fish and Game…they send the appropriate person/advice. There is a bear man and there is a bird man and they are not the same. I’m acquainted with both. Look in the blue pages of your phone book…anyway, he’s beautiful! We have lots of hawks and falcons but haven’t had one on our deck yet. My bird dog would be going berserk!

  15. Yep–it’s a hawk. We have a couple that live in the tree next door to us and hunt the fields behind us. Actually (true story) a couple of years ago my sister (who lives on the other side of town) had her bunny out in her yard and a hawk literally swooped down and took the poor things head off–gross i know. They make that call when they are looking for a mate from what I looked up online earlier this spring when the one next door was doing the same thing. You can even hear the different types of hawk calls if you search it.

  16. I can’t tell one falcon/hawk/bird of prey from another (although I CAN say with 99.34% certainty that your visitor is not an owl), but my gut feeling was falcon. But so many commentors are going with Red Tailed Hawk … but we can’t see the tail! Maybe it’s a Cooper’s Hawk!

    Maybe this website will help you pinpoint who is visiting your deck:

    As for what to do about him, call the zoo. If they can’t help, they’ll point you in the right direction.

    Oh! While we’re talking about birds of prey …. have you ever seen the Owl in a Box?

  17. My goodness! That bird could carry my two Yorkies off into the wild blue!!! Don’t get too close to it!!!!

  18. This is completely and totally precious!! “So basically I’ve now transferred all manner of co-dependency TO A BIRD. Is it lonely? Is it missing its bird people? Does it need medical attention? Should I alert the nature authorities?” Really, I think, these words are exactly what makes you such a special lady!!

  19. You can always call the Oak Mountain Wildlife Center. They rehabilitate injured animals and then release them back into the wild. Dare I even tell you that y’all could visit the bird during it’s recovery? I know you need one more thing to do this summer haha.

  20. it’s a hawk. do you have a mouse or a bunny on your deck? it might be trying to help you out.

  21. or maybe it’s someone’s pet.

  22. He may just live in a tree near by. We have a hawk family that lives in a tree in out back woods. We see them hanging out on various branches and the power line, maybe he thinks your deck is a branch. Or maybe there is a mouse or small bird he’s stalking. I’ve notice our hawk on the same branch for a couple of days and then this morning we saw some nature happen with another small bird, if you get my drift.

  23. Yep…that is a hawk! Where I work in Little Rock, AR there is a family (mom, dad and they had 3 babies)in tree out in front of our building in DOWNTOWN! Craziest thing. We have all watched the babies hatch and grow.

  24. Isn’t that the thing that does that thing from Harry Potter?
    That would be my guess.
    You’re welcome.

  25. Sarah M. says:

    I vote hawk. Watch the puppies. We had puppies one time…and a puppy went missing. That day we saw a large hawk (a little larger than yours…). Now we have no way of proving it, but what else would it have been?

  26. I’m with Amelia… peregrine falcon.

    We have them all over the place here in the Twin Cities metro area, and in fact, there is one that lives at the new Twin’s Stadium!

  27. I’m wondering if the bird has made a nest while you were away and is concerned about your presence being too near it? He seems to be watching you with as much interest as you are watching him. They don’t normally sit near people unless they feel they belong there…so I’d start looking around carefully and keep an eye on him.

  28. I love that Rachel said, “DO NOT get close to it.” As if that is an option for you!

  29. Ok – I know I initially said Hawk but I just looked at the peregrine falcon in the bird book and I gotta tell you – it could be. If so, quite a coup (pun) because the peregrine was extinct in 1964 east of the Mississippi but has recently come back. Sincerely, Cliff Clavin

  30. Kathy Jo says:

    peregrine falcon. Most definitely a peregrine falcon.
    Lucky You!

  31. Kathy Jo says:

    Oh, and, old folks used to call them Duck Hawks. Just for you gee whiz file. ;-)

  32. I am with the folks saying redtailed hawk! Hmmm…please keep us updated!

  33. Oh, I’m so glad he got there safe and sound! I sent him to intimate you into blogging your thoughts about The Bachelorette, since you appear to be the only other soul beside me watching it and I KNOW you’ve got funny insights to share.

    Is it working?

  34. What would Bear Grylls do? Um, never mind :)

  35. Looks like a coopers hawk.

  36. It is a hawk- and the only advice I have for you is to put a pot on your head if you go outside- they can be a little testy and might take to attacking your head- it happened to my grandfather once- he never went to the mailbox again without wearing a pot on his head.

  37. Christina says:

    I am voting for the peregrine falcon, possibly a younger one. It looks a lot like the picture from Cornell’s “Lab of Ornithology” page :

    If you scroll down, you’ll see a picture of an adult and a young falcon. You can also look up hawk pictures from the same site for comparison.

    Very cool, either way!

  38. Jennifer says:

    Check out this link to what I think it is….….

    Be appreciative and hide your small animals! He’s beautiful!

  39. It might be the bird the Cincinnati Zoo is missing. One of their birds is missing and they are looking for it. Kind of looks like the picture they have posted.

  40. Call Ree. She probably knows how to prepare him with a nice sauce. Then she’ll use the feathers for a project for her homeschoolers and/or make a nice pair of earrings out of them.

    (By the way, I’m voting for falcon because doesn’t it sound cooler to say, “Y’all, I have a falcon in my garden” vs. “Y’all, I done got a hawk in my back yard.”?

  41. Carol N. says:

    I think this is a hawk but not sure why it is on your deck unless you have small rodent-like creatures nearby. I saw one swoop down and pick up a chipmunk from my front yard one time…super fast, if I had blinked I would have missed it. They are very fast creatures. I would not approach it. We had an owl in the road the other day just sitting there staring at us in the car. It finally flew off but I had never seen an owl during the daytime or just sitting in the road. Where is Alfred Hitchcock when you need him?

  42. I believe this is a red tailed hawk. A couple of years ago we had a pair nest in a nearby tree. When the “chicks” first started flying I observed behavior as you describe. They would fly a short distance and then land and call to mama. Eventually they would figure out that rescue wasn’t coming and would fly back to the nest. Mama hawk started spending less and less time with the fledgling hawks as they grew. I had them on my deck and roof many times that summer. This is the exact time of year the young hawks begin to fly. That being said, if it doesn’t move on soon, I would call the police or fire department and ask them if they know who to call about an injured hawk.

  43. Ohlookaduck says:

    I have finches and canaries and I can, with definiteness, tell you it’s neither of those.

    You are welcome.

  44. Falcon…hawk…either way, it is a flesh eating CARNIVORE, so by all means take Traci’s advice and wear the pot on your head when you go outside.

  45. There’s a group called AWARE in the Atlanta area that deals with this sort of situation. Their phone number is 678 418-1111. Their Web site address is They might be able to tell you what to do and who to call.

    Tell us what you find out.

  46. Jennifer says:

    I would not be able to keep my 8 and 9 yo away from that !!! They can intimidate the heck out of any thing. So enjoyed your comments on this post! I am 80 mi south of you in Mtgy and always appreciate good southern sass! War Eagle!

  47. which ever kind of hawk you guys decide it is we have both around here, i just don’t get close enough to know. i do know a blue jay from a robin, even can identify a mockingbird, they are the state bird of texas! you learn that here in texas from the first grade. i also learned to stay AWAY from hawks about that time. keep safe. thanks for sharing the photo!!

  48. Contact the good folks at Oak Mtn. State Park. They have a special place where they take care of injured birds like hawks, eagles, owls, and such.

  49. That’s a hawk and I think he may want some bacon! ;)

  50. K's Mom says:

    If you take the advice of #36 and #44 I am going to buy a house in your neighborhood so I can watch you get your mail. :) We have hawks that hang around, I’m thinking it is probably fine.

  51. Well, I have googled every bird that has been mentioned, and to me it looks like all of them, so good luck! :)

  52. How neat – don’t know what it is, but would love for one to land on my deck for the day!

    However, like Megan, I don’t have another person to talk about the Bachlorette with so please address this tomorrow (or soon). I need to know what someone else thinks!

  53. It’s a Falcon. We have one that visits our fence, and helps to control the rat population in the nature preserve behind our house. And nature preserve is simply a fancy word for “overgrown, scary, underbrush which harbors all manner of vermin.”

    I heart our Falcon.

  54. If that’s a hawk, it’s the biggest hawk I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s some breed of eagle – we have them in north alabama. or it’s a cross between an owl and a hawk. An owk or maybe a howl – BWWAHAHAHA

  55. I don’t know what it is but you have the funniest commenters on the world wide web.

  56. What I see of the bird I would say it was a red tail hawk I see them around here in North Idaho. I know if they have a nest near by they will fly around and make this errie squech. If it doesn’t seem injuried at this time I would guess there a nest near by. If your still worried call fish and game department and talk to someone there.

    Coffee is on

  57. Muahahaha. Just read the pot on your head comments. Sing it with me “She has a shoe, and I have a pot, but when we look deeper theres more that we got… God made us special and now I can see if you’re special to him then you’re special to me…” :)

  58. It’s a hawk for sure, and I agree that either it has babies around, or, perhaps is, uh, lookin’ for love??

  59. Christy says:

    if you do go outside with a pot on your head, please post the picture

  60. Emily Massey says:

    Well of course I would have said OWL too Boo…it’s ingrained my sister! :)

  61. I, of course, have absolutely NO advice regarding the bird, but I am having a ball reading all these comments! I cannot wait to hear what happens with this bird!

  62. My husband says it is a red tailed hawk. Whatever he is, he looks quite ominous!

  63. please post a picture when you go out there with a pot on your head!

  64. I have NO idea if it’s a hawk or a falcon but you just have to post a photo of the pot on your head! I’m laughing just imagining it!!!
    OH, my 10 year old thinks you should send a zsu zsu pet out as a decoy…must film that, as well!
    Good luck and God bless!

  65. lavonda says:

    Jean and Brenda have me laughing out loud!

    My husband says, whatever it is, it probably tastes like chicken.

  66. It’s a hawk, girl. . .did you happen to have some little chickens with you on your porch? Squirrels? Bunnies? Any sort of hawk food items. I’m surprised it got that close.

  67. My hubs says it’s a falcon and that he things “falcon” is a category rather than a species but I’m not to QUOTE him on that.

  68. We live out in the country in Mo. and my husband said its some kind of hawk and he was wondering if you have a bird feeder near by your deck. He may be hunting other birds when they come in to feed.

  69. It resembles the hawks that live on our property. They aren’t terrible noisy under normal circumstances, but a couple years ago they had babies and Holy Annoying High Pitched Choir of Bird Voices. Not exactly what you want to hear while relaxing in the hammock.

  70. This is the funniest post and comments in a long time. Traci@TotalMomsense – you are a riot! Thanks for the entertainment, all!

  71. It looks like a hawk to me, but I really have no bird knowledge. We had something very similar a few summers ago. It landed on our water slide, then flew to the swing set, then went on it’s merry way.

    I really would like to see pics of you with a pot on your head though!

  72. rutheee says:

    I need to know what kind of pot. A beautifully shaped terra cotta number trimmed with a little ivy and just the right amount of Chantilly lace? Or are we talking stock pot here?

  73. JustBetty says:

    Well, I’d hafta move.
    [No offense, large bird.]

  74. Monique says:

    According to my dad (lifelong bird guy), your hawk is likely young (losing his feathers) and as they don’t typically stray far from their parents, the “high-pitched call” is likely related to separation.

    A family of red-tailed hawks lives in our neighbor’s tree and I have some great pictures of one sitting on the rail of our deck.

    Looking forward to your update!

  75. I’m thinking we saw a similar hawk flying around the tennis courts yesterday. We were laughing that he was probably waiting for one of us to pass out from the heat so he could pounce on us.

  76. lavonda says:

    My husband has a man who works for him who’s an expert in this area (he’s a falconeer). He sent him the picture of your mystery guest last night and this is what he emailed back this morning:

    This is a red-tailed hawk (buteo jamaicensis). From the color of his eyes, I would say he is an immature bird (first year). He probably has just fledged the nest. Also, looks healthy and appears to be eating well as he has food in his crop.”

    You know what the best part of it is? My husband’s an army pilot. The man he emailed is his maintenance and supply expert who travels the country with him inspecting aviation units about to deploy overseas. Yes Ma’am, our United States Military is here to defend and to serve however you may need…
    even if it’s re forms of aviation outside the military!

  77. This should make you LOL! I have a 14 month old son. Whenever he was a newborn, he was quite “fussy”. If I took him outside, he would instantly quiet. Well, we have a one acre yard with woods surrounding 2 sides. We have several of these hawks that come and go. I actually have a pic of one that looks just like yours. One time I was out on my swing with my newborn baby, and one of them started circling the yard. I kid you not, I ran inside as fast as I could. I was SCARED TO DEATH that the hawk was going to make a divebomb for the baby. YIKES! It was a scary moment….but funny now:)

  78. That is most certainly an immature Red Tailed Hawk! We have those every summer at our house, they make quite a racket for long periods of time. They are huge babies to be sure.

    If you or your neighbors have small animals, keep your eyes on them. I’m not sure a young hawk would try to eat them, but it’s parents certainly could if they wanted to.

    I don’t know if it really needs help at this point, I’d take a wait and see approach.

    Good luck!

  79. My guess is your friend here is a red-tailed hawk:

  80. It’s a falcon. Don’t ask me how I know this bit of bird trivia. :)

  81. Well, Boo, I’m saying it is a Sharp Shinned Hawk…they are known to hang around feeders bc they eat other small birds…it is hard to tell, but it is not a falcon…too big and it doesn’t have the round eyes of a falcon..that’s my educated guess.

  82. What we need here is a Dr. Doolittle.

  83. Jeannette says:

    I agree with Brenda. Call Ree. I think you get a nice pillow from the feathers. And wonderful earrings from the talons. couldEveryone should start wearing flower pots on their heads. Then we would all be able to spot other BooMama readers.

  84. OH! My! Gosh!!!! That is unbelievable!!!!!

  85. someone up top commented that you should not get close and i got all scared for you. an attack bird? on your porch? an update please!

  86. An owl? You thought that looked like an owl?