Or course a Red-tailed Hawk looks fearless but often they fly off at the slightest provocation. But they are nothing if not adaptable. As birds adjust to urban environments they figure out what the real concerns are and play by a new set of rules. In Half Moon Bay there is a park that provides… gophers, voles, snakes, whatever suits your crop. It also provides ocean views and trails and draws many people too. So – what to do? Stay scared of people and miss out on the feast… or get over it and get your grub on. This hawk, for one, has decided that the eating is good and the living is easy so who cares about some slow moving bipeds who don’t notice you most of the time anyway.

Mr. Hawk, care to comment on this matter?

Well put. Simple and succinct.

The people who do notice happen to be respectful and it shows. The Redtail has adjusted its danger threshold far enough to be completely unfazed.

Even bikers, with their higher profile and clattery mechanisms, don’t provoke a fearful response from this calm and collected bird.

Dogs on the other hand are the ones to watch. As long as they are on a leash and you keep a close eye on them… it just isn’t worth leaving such a primo perch.

Even the resident White-tailed Kite voicing and demonstrating its displeasure isn’t enough to make him budge (“him” is a guess based on the bird’s size… just not quite big enough to convince me it was a female, even though there is certainly overlap between the sexes).

He finally moved on when an off-leash german shepherd came bounding along a little too close for comfort. Threshold established.

But fear of people was still a thing of the past as he flew right at me on his way out. He stuck around though and was rewarded with a snake for supper shortly thereafter.

Written by Walter
Walter Kitundu is an artist and designer, instrument builder and bird photographer. As an artist he has created hand built record players powered by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. Walter has performed and been in residence at art centers and science museums internationally. He has performed with the renowned Kronos Quartet, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, the electronic music duo Matmos, and the legendary Marshall Allen - in venues from Carnegie Hall to a high school library in Egilstaadir, Iceland. In 2008 Walter became a MacArthur Fellow. Walter loves photographing birds and is an ongoing volunteer with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. He was hooked when a Red-tailed Hawk landed at his side, ate a caterpillar, then refused to leave. He is a Senior Design Developer for the Studio Gallery at the Exploratorium in San Francisco where he designs and builds environments for learning. You can see more of his work on his blog, Bird Light Wind.