(559) 517-3499

YLP ALERT

Gacier is now clear. Thank you.

YLP ALERT

Medical call 29000 block of Glacier. Please drive with caution.

YLP ALERT

Motor vehicle accident Long Hollow and the parkway. Please use caution on this area until cleared.

Red-tailed hawk

You’ve most likely seen a red-tailed hawk. It is the most common hawk in North America, and recognizable usually by, you guessed it, a reddish tail.

Yosemite Lakes is prime redtail country, and they are year ‘round residents. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t see one circling high above, or sitting on a telephone pole looking for a meal. Their distinctive screech, kee-eeeee-arr, can be heard for some distance throughout the valley.

We have just the habitat that red-tailed hawks love: open country, high perches (bull pines and oak tree snags, utility poles, etc), and a plethora of small mammals to hunt: ground squirrels, voles, mice, rabbits. There is no shortage of any of those here; the supply appears endless, doesn’t it? So, like the turkey vulture I wrote about in an earlier post, red-tailed hawks play an important ecological role in our neighborhoods.

There is frequently a redtail lurking in the trees around the mailboxes by Blue Heron Lake. I saw one waiting patiently on a dead oak tree branch while I was getting my mail. Suddenly, with legs and talons outstretched, it dove to the ground and nabbed a squirrel on the side of the hill. On another occasion, I was looking at some small birds in the brush along the lake trail, only to look up and find a hawk just 15 feet away, sitting on a bare tree branch, eyes fixed upon a motionless squirrel near my feet.

Red-tailed hawks are large, muscular-looking birds weighing up to about three pounds. They stand somewhere between a crow and a goose in size. The female is larger than the male. Broad wings, spanning 45 to 55 inches, are designed for soaring effortlessly over long periods of time while in search of prey.

Redtail plumage can be quite diverse across the continent. Generally, though, they are brownish on top, and whitish underneath. A common field mark is a belly band of dark streaks. On the leading edge of the wing underside you may see a dark bar, or “dash,” and what looks like a “comma” further toward the wing tips. The tail is short, and spreads out like a fan. Juveniles, however, don’t have a red tail; instead, their tail has several dark bands.

Last spring I was fortunate to observe a pair displaying their fascinating courtship behavior involving a variety of aerial acrobatics. As the two birds were circling high above, I heard loud, continuous screeching. The male climbed to a higher altitude, and then made a steep dive. It swooped upward again. With its legs dangling down, it then approached the female from above and touched her. It was all a very exciting performance to witness, even though far away.

Next time you are out and about, perhaps driving through the cattle ranches along Highway 41, be on the lookout for this widespread “highway” hawk.

Keep birding,

Robert Groos


Robert Groos is a published photographer and keen observer of nature who lives in Yosemite Lakes Park. He shares some of his outstanding images of our local feathered friends along with some tidbits of interesting facts about each. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

Previous posts:
Acorn Woodpecker 
Oak Titmouse
Swallows
White-breasted Nuthatch
California Quail
Bald Eagle
Western Kingbird
The turkey vulture

Rigatoni Dinner fun

View our photo gallery from the 2019 Ladies of the Lakes Rigatoni Dinner to benefit Madera County Fire Department Station 10!

About those helicopters

We have received many calls regarding the flyover of a helicopter in the YLP area. Everyone in the park should have received a call from PG&E stating that they would be in the park flying approximately 300 feet above power lines for inspection. Most residents did not answer the call or hear the message as it may have come over as a spam caller.

They will be here for a couple weeks and if you have any questions or concerns you can call them for more information at 1 (800) 743-5000. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has begun daily aerial fire detection patrols across hundreds of miles of its service area. The patrols are to assist the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE and local fire agencies with early fire detection and response this summer. PG&E is launching the patrols this week due to an increase in fire danger from rising temperatures, coupled with the potential for winds.

Hope this helps alleviate concerns residents may have.

Welcome, River Creek golfers!

The weather is cooling down and the golf course is in excellent condition. Come on out and join us, everyone is welcome (no handicaps are necessary).

Players from River Creek Golf Course in Ahwahnee are coming to join us on Sept. 18, and we will be going up to River Creek on Oct. 23 to renew our home-and-homes.

As a result of improved conditions, advertising, and word of mouth, our play has increased by 15.5% over the past 6 months. As the weather cools, I believe that the number of people enjoying our course will continue to increase.

Men’s Club Championship qualifying rounds will be September 20th through the 27th.  Semifinal matches will be played the weekends of October 5th and 6th, followed by the finals on October 12th and 13th

Fire damages YLP house, car

Reprint of comments by Herman Boosten of YLP, from the NextDoor social network.

As many know, there was a house fire on North Dome Drive. On one side was the unfortunate to the house owner. The road was closed for traffic for hours. I got stuck there too.

I wanna give my highest respect to the authorities. The fire brigade has done a great job to prevent the neighborhood from further damage. Even the sheriff was actively spraying water on the dry grass to save the neighbors from damage. Awesome action.

Most impressive was the quick and absolutely professional coordination of the logistics how this fire was handled. This was AAA fire alarm coordination. There was great presence of fire trucks, heavy equipment to cut gaps into the ground brush and trees.

The most impressive was the presence of two fire extinguishing planes circling over the fire until there clearance to leave. A helicopter was assessing the general situation around the fire. A preparedness to protect our neighborhood with whatever is available.

From now on I will sleep very good, better then ever.

Thx to all the people of our volunteer firefighters, the person who coordinated this fire alarm , outstanding and very impressed I was about the officer of the Madera sheriffs office who protected the neighborhood with a garden hose of more damage. Awesome.

A car stopped next to me. Two nice elderly ladies ask me to take some photos. I learned the one on the passenger side was the home owner. The driver her friend was taking her to her place to get her out of the smoke. Great people.