Canada Geese and odd behaviorCanada Geese and odd behavior

I went camping & photographing in northern Utah this week and came across something that made me scratch my head. Ron and I were traveling down a road when I saw some birds high up on a cliff face and at first I couldn’t figure out what the birds were. My mind raced and it took a few seconds to figure out that the birds I was seeing were Canada Geese!

Squawking & flying Canada Geese on top of a cliffSquawking & flying Canada Geese on top of a cliff

It was very odd to see Canada Geese perching on the cliff face, I’d certainly never seen them perched on a cliff before. They would take off squawking, circle and land again and repeated that behavior several times.

Canada Geese landing on top of a cliffCanada Geese landing on top of a cliff

We traveled on down the road and I was puzzled by their behavior and, when we passed back that way on our way out I kept my eye on the cliff face. The Canada Geese were making a racket, flying in circles and landing on rocks at the top of the cliff. The cliff was several hundred feet high so these images are not my best quality. The light was a little better from our position than it had been earlier so we took more images.  When I am looking through my viewfinder with my right eye I often have my left eye open to catch movement outside of the viewfinder and this time it paid off nicely because I did detect movement and trained my lens on the area where I saw it.

Red-tailed Hawk with nesting materialRed-tailed Hawk with nesting material

It was a Red-tailed Hawk hopping & walking around on the ground. I wondered if the hawk was ground hunting but as it moved towards a bush it picked up a stick and I knew it had nesting material.

Red-tailed Hawk carrying the nesting materialRed-tailed Hawk carrying the nesting material

As soon as the Red-tailed had a firm grasp on the stick it took off flying towards the cliff face. You can see how long the stick was in this shot.

Red-tailed Hawk on the nestRed-tailed Hawk on the nest

The Red-tailed Hawk landed on a area of the cliff about a third of the way down from the top and I could clearly see it moving the stick around in the nest. After the hawk got the stick situated it came to the edge of the nest and looked around all the while the Canada Geese were high on the cliff top squawking and flying in and out. From their vantage point they could not see the nest but I’m sure they were aware of the hawk’s presence. I don’t know if their odd behavior was caused by the hawk but it sure was interesting.

The strange behavior of the Canada Geese on the top of the cliff led me to finding a Red-tailed Hawks nest though and I am tickled about that. You never know what fascinating things you will see in nature.

Has anyone else seen Canada Geese high on cliffs? I’d be interested in hearing if you have.

Mia