Red Tailed Hawk in SonomaI’ve often mentioned visits from hawks since they frequently fly over Two Terrier Vineyards to snatch a few moles and gophers. We’re always glad to see them as the terriers are energetic, but not very effective in their efforts to keep the rodent population down. In fact, a few years ago, a breeding pair took up residence here — or at least they conducted most of their “dates” here. We named them Hudson and Kitty Hawk. Now it looks like Hudson’s back. And he’s staking a claim.

For the past two weeks, he’s been starting his morning by landing on the barn roof and letting out a loud shriek. Once he’s scared most of the little birds away and thoroughly upset the terriers, he flies between our telephone pole and our tallest oak patrolling the pasture for varmints. When the terriers get up and start digging up gopher holes, all Hawk Hell breaks loose. While Hudson used to fly away when the terriers were around, now he sits on his perch and screams at them. I’ve been worried that he might swoop down and give Oscar a fair fight. Using an internationally recognized unit of measure, I’d say Hudson is terrier sized. But my Birds of North America tells me, in spite of a four and half foot wingspan, a Red Tailed Hawk only grows up to 3-1/4 pounds. Must be the way he’s ruffling up his feathers that makes him look bigger.

digging terriers

The dogs are good at finding gopher holes and enlarging them, but not so good at catching the gophers.

John the Baptist and Lucy confer on landscaping

Lucy, at least, is more interesting in conferring with John the Baptist on landscaping details than savaging rodents.

Red Tailed Hawk on telephone pole in Sonoma

Still, Hudson keeps screaming from his favorite perches that he owns all rodents in the pasture.

Oscar observed by hawk

Which is especially worrisome when a small hawk-colored terrier is just below his perch.

We’d just about convinced ourselves that Oscar was in no danger of an unfortunate raptor encounter. Until the other day. John the Baptist saw two Golden Eagles circling over the barn.

Golden Eagle: Photograph by Joe McDonald/Animals Animals—Earth Scenes

Now those guys are North America's largest raptors. At up to 13lbs., a Golden Eagle is definitely terrier-sized. (Photograph by Joe McDonald/National Geographic.)

I wonder if Oscar and Hudson have considered joining forces?