Jennifer Steele, chairwoman of the marketing committee for the Fort Williams Park Foundation in Cape Elizabeth, was taking an early morning walk at the park recently, hoping to get some photos of the sun coming up over the water, when she caught site of a juvenile red-tailed hawk hanging out at the site of the new Children’s Garden.

“As I was walking west through the park, I noticed a huge bird sitting on the stone stairway just above the new council ring at the Children’s Garden and I proceeded to get closer for better photos. I literally took about 100 images,” Steele said this week.

“(The bird) just sat there keeping an eye on me as I crept closer and closer, but it didn’t fly away for the longest time. Personally, seeing this hawk was an incredibly spiritual moment. But, it also seemed like a very good omen for our new Children’s Garden, too.”

What made the moment even more special is that the young hawk was sighted at the Children’s Garden, which was specifically designed to teach children about the natural world.

“I’m pretty sure the hawk was simply waiting to have breakfast, consisting of a squirrel, chipmunk or other prey in the ballfield, where these critters are in abundance,” she added. “This was the first time I have personally seen any hawks in the park and it was quite a sight to behold.”

Steele posted one of the many photos she took of the bird on the Fort William Park Foundation’s Facebook page. She is pretty certain it was a red-tailed hawk, though she is asking for help in identifying it.

Someone who lives nearby the park commented on the post, saying, “There is a nest of red tails in the wetlands across Shore Road. I see the adults on most days circling the sky and very few chipmunks around this summer.”

The website for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a recognized expert on birding, called the red-tailed hawk “probably the most common hawk in North America” while adding that the birds are one of the largest raptors in the hawk family. In addition, the website said the red-tailed hawk prefers open country, where it can get a good look at its prey.

Kate Irish Collins

A juvenile red-tailed hawk hangs out at the site of the new Children’s Garden at Fort Williams Park.

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