We actually saw this little guy at the lake, but when he left, he flew over to our street, so he totally counts as a Closer to Home species.
We were riding our bikes when we saw him on his perch; because it was getting near dusk, we initially thought he was an owl. Instead, we found he was a little red-shouldered hawk. These birds are ubiquitous on fence posts and power lines near us, but we usually don’t see them sitting so near the lake.
Red-shouldered hawks are actually used in falconry, which is an age-old sport that today has a strong basis in conservation. They even have an apprentice system with required participation in raptor conservation initiatives (at least around here).
These hawks are also known to hunt small game such as mice, snakes, lizards, rabbits, and these:
The greater prairie chicken! Just kidding. We actually saw this guy walking down the road the day we saw our little hawk. And while red-shoulders aren’t known for going after free-range chickens, there are several larger species of hawks and owls that do. Lesson of the day: If you have chickens, keep an eye on them so they don’t walk down the road and leave openings for really bad chicken-road-crossing or ‘tastes like chicken’ jokes.