Red Tail Hawks Saturday Night Bath

© Babsje (

Two Red Tailed Hawks – babsjeheron

What, you were maybe expecting Great Blue Herons today?
It’s Saturday night bath time!

Rounding the corner coming out of the channel, a flash of movement to the left caught my eye. Raising binoculars, I discovered it wasn’t the Canada Goose I had expected to see. It was a Red Tailed Hawk about to launch in to the lake for a cooling bath. Thrilling. Only once before – years ago – had I seen a Hawk bathing, and here, at nearly the same spot along the shore, was another.

© Babsje (

Two Red Tailed Hawks Bathing – babsjeheron

Just as I swung my camera into position, another flash of feathers. Two. There were TWO Red Tailed Hawks splashing into the lake together, bathing together while cacophonous Blue Jays and Grackles pestered from branches above.

Compare the mood of the two Red Tailed Hawks in the top photo with that in the left photo. Do you see the change, from excited animation when first landing in the water to affectionate nuzzling, as the hawks bathe together side-by-side, touching their beaks.

Hawks are very territorial, and this pair owns that piece of shoreline, although the Blue Jays who also nest in the thick stand of trees would beg to differ. The Hawks bathed in silence, seemingly oblivious to the raucous chattering from the Jays that flitted from branch to branch above them. My practice is to keep hidden from the wildlife I photograph, and if the Hawks were aware of me, they didn’t let on.

Two Red Tail Hawks Bathtime fanned tail – babsjeheron

The pair frolicked close to the shore there, dunking underneath a few times, then surfacing and shaking off the water droplets from time to time. They remained very close together the entire time, almost constantly touching. It was July, which is not traditionally mating season for Red Tails here, and son heir closeness surprised me. At one point their dance involved fanning out the beautiful red tails in display.

Red Tail Hawk Bathtime – babsjeheron

For a finale, they both ducked their heads below the surface and pointed tails skyward. They reminded me of synchronized swimmers. I have never seen wild birds so closely match their movements, as though engaged in a perfectly choreographed ballet.

Red Tail Hawk After Bathtime – babsjeheron

At the end, the male Hawk flew up into the trees and spent a long time there, preening and fluffing out and drying his feathers. The female remained in the water for a little while longer before she, too, flew off to get dry.

I paddled on back to the boathouse a very satisfied photographer. It had been an amazing day.

And do you remember back at the top of this post I had mentioned seeing another bathing Hawk in that same area of the shore? Pictured below is that young Hawk. He is an immature Red Tail who doesn’t yet have the red feathers. They turn red at around three years of age.

Young Hawk after bath – babsjeheron

Encountering the immature Hawk taking a bath happened in a way eerily similar to chancing upon the two Hawks bathing years later and only a few yards farther down the shore. My kayak rounded the corner coming out of the channel, and a burst of movement to the left caught my eye. Raising binoculars, I discovered it wasn’t a Canada Goose at all. It was a Red Tailed Hawk splashing about in the water! I didn’t know Hawks did that and I was thrilled to see it.

Below ks a photo sequence of the young Hawk’s bath. He bathed for many minutes while I was watching from a hidden spot. It was lovely to see such an endearing young bird enjoying the water. I felt very lucky to have been present.

Hawk bathing sequence - babsjeheron © 2021 Babsje (

Young Hawk bathing sequence – babsjeheron

Not to derail my own post, for folks who have been following my attempt to find the exact age of our beautiful keyhole tunnel, I’m still getting a runaround, bouncing from historical society to historical society. However I did learn more about our gorgeous Echo Bridge, shown in this antique postcard. That is not me in the canoe.

Echo Bridge Postcard

Obligatory Great Blue Heron photograph:

© Babsje (

Great blue heron foraging in the rain.


Thanks to Debbie for her Six Word Saturday . This post title has the requisite six words!

The always-inspiring Lens Artists Tina, Patti, Amy, and Leya are still taking a much-deserved and much-needed break for the month of July. This week’s challenge focuses on the topic of Postcards. Ana Campo from her blog Anvica’s Gallery is the host this week. I included an antique postcard of Echo Bridge today.

Thanks to Ana for her Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 159: Postcards . She has some lovely photos for this challenge at her link, check them out.

Folks, now that some areas are opening back up, please consider supporting your local Arts communities – whether music, theater, crafts, visual arts venues, and others. All have been impacted over the past year and they need your love.

My brick & mortar presence in Massachusetts dates back to 2009 in several local venues/galleries.

2015 (May), 2016 (March and July), 2018 (May, June, July), 2019 (December), 2020 (January) several one-woman photography shows at TCAN – The Center for Arts Natick
2018 (September, October) one-woman photography show at Natick Town Hall
2013 thru now 2021 Five Crows Gallery in Natick
2009 one-woman photography show at a local Audubon Sanctuary

From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

May the Muse be with you.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick, Red Tail Hawk

Posted on July 31, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, Hawk, Heron, Kayaking, Nature, Photo Essay, Photography, raptor, Red tailed hawk, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. What a beautiful chance encounter Babsje! Lucky you!

  2. How exciting, I can see why you were so thrilled, amazing photos, I am sure it will be a day you will always remember.

  3. Wow, pretty impressive. I’ve really only been able to get pics of hawks sitting still in high places. 😉 The young hawk is precious!

    • Thanks Julie, happy that you like that young Hawk. Quite a character who took a very long bath. With the adorable bunnies in your yard it seems like Hawks might be nearby? Or maybe an Owl? Best, Babsje

      • We do have hawks that flyover, and sometimes swoop down for a closer look, but not young ones. Every winter, I love the sound of the great horned owls in our woods, but I have never seen them. Every year as a first grade teacher, I read “Owl Moon” to my students by Massachusetts’ own Jane Yolen. Ah, for a winter moonlit walk to find an owl! 😉

        • That’s cool! Do you have an Audubon Sanctuary there? The one near Sharon does an Owl Prowl for families. I love Great Horned Owls and had a pair in my trees. I heard them calling across the valley at night but never saw them ever.

  4. Great post!!! Thank you for participating in the postcard challenge.

    • Hi Ana. So glad you liked the Hawks. Thanks for hosting. Your Postcards topic brought back many fond childhood memories collecting and sending postcards from vacation spots. Best, Babsje

  5. Babsje, I forwarded your post about Red Tail Hawks to my son who loves these birds and has rehabilitated and released many of them. He called your post “intimate” and “moving.” Thank you.

    • Hi Gary. Very kind of you to share this with your son. Thanks for doing that. I would love to learn more about the Hawk rehabilitation work he has done. Plus given your last name, how could he or you NOT have an affinity for Buteo? Best, Babsje

  6. A wonderful sighting Babsje, and yes, how interesting to find such similarity after 2 years. I loved your opening image especially. They are such beautiful creatures – how sweet that they are so affectionate!

    • Many t banks for your great comment Tina. I was really surprised by their obvious affection for each other and the way they mimicked each other’s movements. Both Hawks going bottoms up simultaneously was both amusing and endearing to see. They were in total harmony together. Glad you liked this one. Best, Babsje

  7. These are fabulous capture, as always, Babsje! It does take patience and time to capture theme.

    • Hi Amy. I’m so glad you liked the bathing beauties. Thanks for the kind words. And you’re right – it does take patience. That and the luck of being in the right place at the right time. Best, Babsje

  8. Ahhh…. what fun indeed! And of course, thanks for the obligatory heron shot! You make me long for the kayaks again, but not to be… 😒

    • Thank you Ma”am. You may not have kayaks now but you have Quail! And your beach post was lovely. And you have a trail cam. Life has a way of evening things out. Glad you like these Red Tails. Best, Babsje

      • Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for what I have and not to yearn for what I don’t! That’s always the best option… (I’ll try not to dwell on missing the kayak and the puppy!) 😉

        • I don’t blame you for missing puppy and kayak. I’m missing kayaking too – still mending the broken heel and the lake is closed because of cyanobacteria blue-green algae. Do you have your eye surgery coming up?

          • I was so dissatisfied with my eye doctor visit, I’m thinking about getting a 2nd opinion. The dr completely contradicted what she had told me on the previous pre-pandemic visit. And none of it sounded good.

            Sorry the broken heal is taking so long to heal. I shattered my ankle in 2010 and it was no fun. Luckily I was still living in a totally handicap equipped house at the time. Still had my late hubby’s wheelchair to scoot around in. PT helped a whole lot once I could put weight on the foot again.

            • Sorry to hear the doc was contradictory. A second opinion is a great idea. Good luck. Glad also the your ankle has healed – I can’t imagine shattering it! Thanks for your well wishes! Take care.

  9. Wat een uitzonderlijke waarneming. Dat moet je een fantastisch gevoel gegeven hebben

    • Many thanks for your kind comment. I’m glad you found it exceptional! And yes, it felt great to witness those Red Tail Hawks. I am fond of them. Best, Babsje

  10. Was not expecting this! Way cool 🙂

  11. Great photos. Unusual ‘pairing’. Superb!

  12. This is so cool. Thanks for sharing!

  13. A wonderful meeting! Good timing and patience – you are so good at this every time. Thank you for letting us in on the adventure!

  14. What wonderful pictures you took of the red tail hawks and what a lovely story they tell. Very special!

    • Many thanks for your kind appreciation, Sylvia. I’m pleased to know that you like the Red Tails photos and their story. They were quite the pair to behold! Best, Babsje

  1. Pingback: Beautiful Herons and Friends: There are No Wrong Answers | Babsje Heron

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