Red-shouldered hawks splashing in a Saratoga swimming pool


DEAR JOAN: Wondering if you can shed light on a happening.

Early one morning, two red-shouldered hawks were frantically flapping in our swimming pool. Were they playing, fighting, mating?

One began sort of dragging the other through the water toward one side of the pool. Thinking they were drowning, I lifted them out together with the net and left them poolside. I really felt one was dead.

About an hour later, we were awakened again by the sound of one flapping in the water and navigating to the other side of the pool, where he hopped out and disappeared in the bushes.

The other one sat on the chair awhile, then fluttered to the bushes on his side of the pool. The “swimmer” was spotted in the bushes later in the morning, but neither one has been seen since.

What were they up to?

Jan Eby, Saratoga

DEAR JAN: They definitely weren’t practicing backstroke.

You apparently witnessed the latter part of an aerial battle over territory. Red-shouldered hawks, like many other animals, fiercely defend their territories, but the hawks do their fighting in the air. They fly at each other, lock their talons together and cartwheel through the sky, sometimes coming dangerously near the ground.

In this case, they might have ended up in the pool and continued to go at each other. While they also have elaborate mating rituals in the sky that involve soaring together and the male performing sky dances, it’s more ballet than battle.

DEAR JOAN: Much to my surprise and delight, I have a blue heron nest with a baby in one of my tall trees. Before I discovered the baby and nest, I found a couple of broken eggs on the grass below.

The eggshells were a light blue in color. I’m assuming a predator got the eggs. I’m curious what bird could have gotten the eggs? I’ve only seen hummingbirds, crows and an occasional blue jay in my yard.

Would you have any idea?

Lori Gregory, Pleasanton

DEAR LORI: You are a lucky duck to have a great blue heron nesting in your tree. They are incredible birds, but I do tend to say that about all birds.

The eggshells you found might not be evidence of foul play. Herons will toss out the empty shells after their chicks have hatched. They are otherwise messy nest-keepers, allowing collections of poo and even dead chicks to remain in the nest, but they chuck the shells.

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