Display: A Protective Gesture

Defense instincts show up early in red-tailed hawks. A red-tailed chick, long before it can fly, will display a protective gesture for a sibling when threatened. The protectiveness will continue as they mature; parents, to protect the chicks, have been seen transporting the helpless birds to safety by carrying them in their claws. Nests of red-tailed hawks are large affairs and are built with sticks and lined with almost any available soft material such as grass.

“Knowing that the increasing length of days in the spring stimulates the birds’ pituitary gland to release certain chemicals; and knowing that one of these triggers the gathering of twigs; and when the nest reaches a certain stage of completion, another chemical kicks in – leading the birds to gather different materials for the lining. This knowledge caused many of us to reconsider our own behavior: might it be triggered by instinctive messages we cannot understand or control?”

Marie Winn in Red-Tails in Love

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