Juniper Valley Park is known for its beautiful hills, shady trees and fun-filled playgrounds but what is less realized is that Juniper has become the part-time home to stunning and sizable birds known as Red Tailed hawks.
If you stay alert and have a little bit of luck you may be able to see this one of these magnificent creatures soar over the tops of Juniper's trees, tennis courts and ball fields and maybe even hear its distinctive scream.
The Red Tailed hawk is the most common hawk in North America. It has a rich brown color above and pale below with a streaked belly. This large bird weighs in at 1.5 to 3.5 pounds and measures 18 to 26 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 43 to 57 in.
On any given day, you might be able to see a hawk circle above the trees by the lower ball fields as it looks down towards the ground for an unsuspecting squirrel or perched high on a branch near the upper park house looking for any movement below. Other areas known to have been graced by this graceful creature are on top of the tennis court fences or mid tree to upper tree sections near the Pullis Farm Cemetery. One sure sign that this bird of prey is about to spring into its hunting ritual descent is that it will slowly glide downward while keeping its legs outstretched.
Red-tailed Hawks mate in the spring and both the male and female build their nest made up of sticks, lined with twigs or bark shreds very high up in trees.
Along with being known for its intelligence, this bird can really fly, reaching speeds of 120 mph although 20 to 40 mph is its usual velocity. Keep in mind that hawks are natural predators and will look for small mammals, including: mice, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, rabbits, opossums, cats, skunks, bats...and yes, small unleashed dogs.