Samantha Bean’s Red-Tailed Hawk Experience

Samantha Bean – who has been documenting the transformation of her yard to a sort of sanctuary for native plants, flowers, birds, and bees on her blog Flutter by Meadows — shared her family’s amazing red-tailed hawk experience with us when she last tracked her Journey to the Moon miles. Thanks for this wonderful story, Samantha – we couldn’t resist sharing it!

I am an amateur bird and wildlife photographer who loves spending time walking and biking the LHT. I took my family out with me on this gorgeous sunny winter day in the expectation of seeing the red-shouldered hawk I had just seen the day before at Pole Farm. Instead, today was a red-tailed day.

LHT Hawk by Samanta Bean

Photo by Samantha Bean

When we took our first steps on the well-traveled, snow-covered trail, we were greeted with a hawk perched right on the wire anchoring the “pole” that notes the historical significance of this portion of the trail. We stopped to admire the bird for a time, and we were honored by the bird’s decision to stay that way for quite some time. I probably took 35 pictures before my arms felt heavy and exhausted. Just when we were ready to march on, the bird took off in dive mode, and landed in the snow literally only feet from us. I turned back to look at my husband and daughter. Their faces hung in a state of awe.

LHT Hawk by Samanta Bean

Photo by Samantha Bean

The bird was kind enough to leave an imprint in the snow for us, and also left a lasting imprint in our memories. Was the bird showing off? Was it practicing his technique? We may not know, but know that whatever the intention was, it was probably one of my most memorable days on the trail yet!

As we continued across the fields and watched from the observation tower, we could often pick out the silhouette of other hawks surveying the field. Occasionally, we looked up to the red-tails and their white underwings riding thermals which practically glowed in white translucence against the bright blue sky, with the dim moon hanging near the forest. The bird pictured, and the one practicing his technique, we believe to be a juvenile red-tailed hawk. What made the day even more of a spectacle is that red-tailed hawks that live near my home fly away before I even have time to get them into my view finder. They are normally so skittish!

LHT Hawk by Samanta Bean

Photo by Samantha Bean

Thanks, Samantha — this was wonderful for us to read and share! Let Samantha inspire you, folks — we haven’t made it to the moon yet! You can track miles on or off the LHT — whether you’re on your treadmill, birdwatching, or cross-country skiing. While you’re uploading, share your story — every upload is an entry into our new Journey to the Moon raffle — we are giving away a Starbucks gift card every week! Think of it as rocket fuel for our continued trek.

And learn more about birds on the LHT!