About the Park

San Jose, Ca – Santa Clara County Park

Science Spotlight: Red-shouldered Hawks at Santa Teresa

Dan and I were making our back after finishing up the hike to Coyote Peak when suddenly a blur of a bird rushed past us on the trail. Looking in the direction of its landing, we were met with an awesome sight: a red-shouldered hawk perched up on a nearby tree. I was surprised when I noted the beautiful red streaking across the belly and shadowy-looking eyebrows of the bird – a surprising sight when you’ve grown used to glancing at perching raptors and seeing red-tailed hawks.

Red-shouldered hawks are typically birds of the forest. Their meals of choice include small mammals, amphibians, small birds, and reptiles. These hawks prefer intact forests – a habitat that has been lost in many places out east, resulting in a decline in local populations.

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Red-shouldered Hawk; © Ferd Brundick, 2014, Flickr Photo Album, some rights reserved.

The red-shouldered hawk, like many other raptors (or birds of prey), has ties to conservation initiatives in the Bay Area. The Department of Fish and Wildlife conducted a study on rat poison’s effects on predators, and found that poisoned rodents can cause the secondary deaths of hawks, owls, foxes, and bobcats. The red-shouldered hawk is among the list of species affected. Concerned about the loss of predators, the Raptors Are The Solution (RATS) organization is using posters in a campaign to educate the public about the secondary effects of rat poison. You can help, too – when faced with a rodent issue, leave the killing to the raptors or humane alternatives to poisons.

Park History

Although it stands as one of the less popular parks in the county, Santa Teresa County Park holds a rich history. For over 6,000 years, the park was occupied by Native American tribes (most notably, the Muwekma Ohlone tribe).

The park was visited by Juan Bautista de Anza during his explorations for mission locations in the 1770’s. In 1825 the area was settled by José Joaquin Bernal, a member of the expeditions. The area was primarily used as a ranch, vineyard, and orchard under Bernal. In 1956, the county purchased land for the park, thus beginning the accumulation of acreage for Santa Teresa County Park.

Visit the Park

Please note that there is a fee for parking. Dogs are allowed on leashes.

We recommend making the trek up to Coyote Peak (3.8 Miles) while visiting the park. When walking along the grassy hills, be sure to look out for birds of prey such as the red-tailed hawk and the turkey vulture. When in more forested areas, keep an eye out for red-shouldered hawks and songbirds.

Here are some helpful resources to help plan your visit:

Gallery

Posted by Taylor Crisologo

Taylor studied biology at Cornell University, where she worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on projects ranging from breeding herring gulls off the coast of Maine to dancing lyrebirds in Australia’s Blue Mountains. When she’s not researching great places to experience Bay Area nature, you can find her birding or reading a book at home with her fiancé Dan and their two cats (Max and Penelope).

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