Monday, May 11, 2009

Is that a red-tailed hawk or bald eagle I hear?

So this weekend while hiking in Marin I heard a red-tailed hawk screech in flight. I was under the trees so I couldn't see it, but I knew it was a red-tailed hawk because last week I went to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek. It's also a wildlife rescue center for native California animals, so they had many animals, mostly raptors, that had been injured at some point. A disturbing number of them had had a wing amputated, but they seemed pretty active all the same.

The coolest animals there were probably the bald eagle and the bobcat. I hadn't ever seen either of them up close, usually off in the distance and not for very long. Both were much bigger than I expected and were incredibly beautiful.

The bald eagle started making some sounds which sounded nothing like what I expected the eagle to make. You can listen to a sample here if you give it a second to load. Much higher pitched than I thought. The docent noticing our surprise said that Hollywood had decided this was not a proper sound for a bald eagle and whenever they wanted to add the sound effect they used the cry of our own red-tailed hawk. You can find a sample here.

One good thing to learn was that there are a few breeding pairs here on the edges of the Bay Area. One pair I remember is in Livermore. And more come for part of the year.


  1. That's the cry of our national bird? I expected something more macho or intimidating from a bald eagle. Someone should tell Stephen Colbert. Cool samples.

  2. I forgot the Colbert Report used a screaming eagle sound. Not quite as "macho" as you said. Kind of annoying actually.