This summer I have been learning a lot about juvenile birds. Their plumage is sometimes the same or similar to adult birds, but more often than not it is enough different to be very confusing for making an identification. But here is a big clue that I have learned, their behavior is usually quite strange. I can’t help but be struck with the similarity to human juveniles. Anyone who has had kids or spent much time around teenagers will know what I am talking about.
Yesterday while birding at Wood River Day Use area we spent a lot of time observing and photographing a juvenile pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers in an aspen grove. One of the strange behaviors we witnessed was this juvenile splayed out flat on a limb. It reminded me of a teenager sprawled out on a couch, or public bench or god knows where, without any pretention of proper behavior.
The second set of juveniles we watched were a pair of young Red-tailed Hawks. We first heard them screaming in the distance, and were confused thinking them to be protesting Red-shouldered Hawks. We later saw them circling and diving in the sky in some kind of mock mating ritual. And then there was this youngster that flew into a tree very close to us to stare, good judgment overcome with curiosity. Sort of reminded me of a gawking teenage caught staring, unaware of proper social behavior. It made for an interesting day. (No, I don’t think my grandsons read my blog!)