Three friends motored to Orange this morning, to Shangri-la Botanical Gardens. Our mission was to remove ornaments from two outdoor Christmas trees we decorated last month to represent the Big Thicket Association and Texas Master Naturalists. As a kinswoman of blessed memory used to say: “Christmas is OVER.” At least the outward manifestation.
Our work was quickly accomplished. On our way out of the Gardens with our boxes of bird ornaments, we paused for some live birds: big tree swarming with robins and some tiny grey and yellow models. For these, we decided “goldfinch” was close enough to an ID. But then a few minutes later we saw a man with a camera. Figuring that made him official, we asked him about the little birds. Quoth he: “Pine warblers.” Now we know.
On the road home one of us spied a hawk on a power line. We retraced our route, for a closer look. We eased our car pretty close under him. We agreed it was a red-shouldered hawk. After a few pointed glances from those dark raptor eyes, we took his message, and moved along, happy to have seen a buteo. What is a buteo? You may well ask. It’s a class of hawks who are stockier and more compact than some. A red-shouldered hawk is a buteo. A buteo can also be a red-tailed hawk, a broad-winged hawk, a short-tailed hawk, a Swainson’s hawk, a rough-legged hawk … well, you get the picture.