A large hawk, one with broad wings that soars easily.  Thus is the definition of ‘buteo.’

And thus is the definition of this fine marvel, a splendid predator—albeit a juvenile—that I shared some time with on Saturday.

Walking along the eastern shore of White Rock Lake, I found myself surprised by the presence of a large hawk swooping across my path so near to me as to be touchable, reachable, an object of wonder that I might possess for a brief moment simply by holding my hand above my head.

This was our introduction.

I walked; it flew; we met.  I then gave chase, constantly fighting its tendency to move east of me, an action that placed me in the position of facing into the sun while trying to view and photograph this splendid creature.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched in a tree (20080405_02995)

A juvenile (most likely light-morph) red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), its youthful appearance failed to hide its massive form.  I fell in awe as it swept by me just above my head, then I stalked it with abandon as it continued its attempts to outmaneuver the northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) that haunted it each time it came to rest on yet another perch.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched atop a tree (20080405_03031)

Like in the top of a tree where it could survey its surroundings.

But not for long.  Once a single mockingbird found it, several others responded to the herald for assistance and promptly swooped in to pester this beautiful creature.

So off it went…

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched atop an electrical pole (20080405_03042)

Atop an electrical pole gave little respite from the avian onslaught that pursued it.  Not long after coming to rest there, the attack commenced again.  One mockingbird at first…

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched atop an electrical pole while a northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) taunts it from nearby (20080405_03052)

…several later.

Yet one is all it took to chase the raptor away.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) fleeing the onslaught of a northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) (20080405_03053)

Finding refuge amongst the naked bones of the world, this fine hunter took but a moment to collect itself before dashing off to a safer retreat.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) taking flight from a barren tree (20080405_03069)

It flew far into the distance before rising on thermals, beginning a grand circle in the sky that carried it upward, away, into the blue ether that would grant it the wish it so longed for: safety and security while it hunted.

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