[TN-Bird] Red tail/harrier "batelle royale" at St. Thomas Aquinus Campus!

Hi TN-Birders,
 
What a show!  What a show!  What a BIG, BIG show!
 
At about 11:45 AM today, as I sat at the reception desk just inside the  
glass-fronted Emergency Room waiting room at St.Thomas Hospital in the Belle  
Meade area of West Nashville (Davidson County) where I volunteer each Thursday  
morning, I looked across the way to see one of the resident red-tailed hawks  
wheeling in the sky, from whence it then came down to perch in a tree.   This 
is 
not an unusual sight, as it happens almost every Thursday. 
 
Suddenly, an interloper appeared and took a swipe at the red-tail.  At  
first, I thought it might be a second red-tail starting a little territorial 
and  
"testosteronial" battle.  In a moment, I realized, as the two lifted off  into 
the air together, that the "new" bird was NOT a red-tail.  I left the  desk 
and dashed outside where several people had also noticed the two  hawks.  The 
hawks latched talons in mid air, separated, and the red-tail  soared higher 
with 
tail a-fan while the "new" hawk plummeted groundward, then  flew right across 
the St. Thomas Heliopad about 75 feet in front of us at eye  level.  With the 
slim gray body, the long black-tipped wings, long tail AND  that fantastic 
white rump, it proved to be a harassing harrier!  It flew  back around; the 
red-tail flew down, and they went at it again.  About that  time, one woman 
commented, "Them two ain't the same kind of birds."  I told  her she was right 
and 
pointed out the field marks and differences to  her and a couple of other 
people who gathered around to listen.  About that  time, the birds repeated the 
performance with the red-tail soaring aloft while  the harrier once again 
sailed 
right over the heliopad at close range.  My  "companions" saw the differences 
as I pointed them out, and there were a couple  of "Oooooohs" as he swooped 
back up in the sky to battle again.  These  little forays went on for about ten 
minutes in the area between the  hospital and  the St. Thomas Aquinas/St. 
Cecilia School campus next  door.  I did not see where the red-tail went at the 
end, but the harrier  once again made a fast sail across the heliopad to insure 
that he'd made a fine  imprint upon all our brains then sped on out behind St. 
Thomas toward Richland  Creek, McCabe Golf Course & the campuses of Tennessee 
Tech &  Nashville Tech where there are large expanses of short grass and some 
taller  grass over which a harrier might enjoy hunting.  What a sight to see, 
and  it gave several worried people (who were there with family members who 
were  being treated in the Emergency Room) a moment of excitement and a 
learning  experience.  When the birds were first spotted, those folks were 
outside on 
 a lovely day getting some air and using their cell phones to call other 
family  members.  Every one of them took a break to watch the show, and a 
couple 
of  them even thanked me for pointing out the obvious differences in the two 
species  which they'd thought were "some kind of hawks."
 
It all sort of made the day, and when I left duty, a red-tail was perched  in 
a tree between the hospital and the schools where its territory is, once  
again, intact.  The harrier, undoubtedly more practiced in fighting now,  will 
probably go home to his nesting grounds to defend HIS own territory  after, 
maybe, getting in a few more practice rounds as he wends his way along  the 
migration route.
 
Cheers & prayers,
 
Dee Thompson
Nashville, TN
 
 
 
 

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