An Unexpected Visitor

Today I had a most unexpected visitor to my garden. Please enjoy this short video; perhaps you can help me with the identification of this stately creature.

I advanced toward the hawk carefully and was surprised that it let me get within about ten feet before it flew off. It came back to the garden twice this afternoon.

Some who have seen this have suggested that it could be an immature Red Tailed Hawk. Others think it is a young Red Shouldered Hawk. It’s over 20+ inches from head to tail. Whatever it is, I can’t seem to find a sure match in my bird book. I would certainly appreciate help in identifying it.

I don’t know why it has landed in my garden, but, of course, the garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat so it is certainly welcome. One of the criteria is that the garden provides a food source for wildlife. I can only hope that the hawk is after the rabbits that have been eating the phlox and liriope. One must support the eternal food chain.


About johnvic8

John Viccellio retired after 24 years in the U. S. Navy and began to dig into gardening when he could finally land in one place. He completed the Master Gardener course in 1992 and has since designed and constructed two of his own gardens. He wrote a monthly garden column for ten years and was a regular contributor to Carolina Gardener magazine. John published his first book, Guess What's in My Garden!, in 2014. He lives in Stallings, NC with his wife, in close proximity to six of his eight grandchildren.
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32 Responses to An Unexpected Visitor

  1. Susi Lovell says:

    My vote is for immature Red Tailed Hawk although…hm… It’ll be interesting to see what the experts who visit your blog think.


  2. cwaugh212 says:

    Looks like a juvenile Northern Goshawk to me.


  3. Can’t say for sure, but it might be a Red Tailed Hawk because its tail is light and it has a black band at the tip of its wings. Can’t see the chest clearly, but it looks light, which is correct. Red Shouldered Hawks have a black tail with narrow bands of white and chest is red. Immature have a black tail with brown bands. You can see a good example of the markings of a Red Shouldered Hawk here:


    • johnvic8 says:

      Thanks for the input. I couldn’t find a match in my NGS bird book or on line. this one has a light colored “ring around the neck” that I didn’t see on any photos. By the way, it didn’t take car of my rabbits; the phlox was eaten this morning.


  4. John, this is a remarkable photo.


  5. Helen Bushe says:

    Wow! You must be well pleased with this .


  6. FlowerAlley says:

    Wee done photo John.


  7. Julie says:

    John, really fantastic video, how very exciting to be able to get close to a raptor.We do not have certified wildlife habitats over here but sounds a really good initiative.


  8. Sonia says:

    Whoever he is, he is cute. 🙂


  9. Amy says:

    What a beautiful bird! Thank you for the video. Love your garden, John! 🙂


  10. Your garden is incredible and so is that shot of the hawk!


  11. Hawk 0 Rabbits 1 – You have a lovely garden. thanks for sharing.


  12. Cathy says:

    How wonderful to actually capture him/her on your phone. I, too, am impressed by the idea that your garden is a certified wildlife site. What an excellent initiative. Do you find it difficult to be a retired professional horticulturist (with all the chemicals that can imply) and do without, for wildlife? I’d love to learn more about that aspect of your lovely garden John. (Or perhaps you write about it more frequently and I’m just not very good at keeping up with my favourite blogs?)


    • johnvic8 says:

      You are most kind in your remarks. Thank you. I was not a professional hort person…rather I was career Navy and then industry with space program. I did complete the Master Gardener curriculum, which I guess gives me bragging rights (which I don’t use). To be certified wildlife site, I had to certify to the the Natl Wildlife Federation that I can provide food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young…and send $20. I suppose one could cheat and just say all that, but I do meet the qualifications. I try to minimize chemicals but the slugs, voles and Japanese beetles do get a bit of chemical attention from to time. I rarely fertilize but when I do I use organic. You are right…I should write more about these kinds of things.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cathy says:

        ‘Chemical attention’ is good John! Sorry I got confused about your background (which is there for anyone to read!) Hope to hear more about this aspect of your lovely garden in future!


  13. It looks rather like our sparrow hawks here in UK but I’m no expert. Gorgeous bit of filming though.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You got really close. I am surprised because young hawks are very leery of humans. There is no doubt it was there for food. I heard birds tweeting in the video. It could not carry a full size rabbit, but baby bunnies would be a nice meal.


  15. Rapolas says:

    That is WOW! 🙂 Nice one 🙂


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