Sunday, February 6, 2011

Red Tail Hawk Becomes Efficient Hunter

 At Springbrook's birdbanding activity this morning the immature Red Tailed Hawk was back looking for food.  He had feasted on another squirrel on Thursday.  This morning he was oblivious of all the people setting up bird traps and sat watching the ground around us as we watched him.

He suddenly focused on the ground near the windows, and as we watched, he dove down on a short tailed shrew within a few feet of the watchers, and flew off with it to a tree nearby. 

Just enough to generate more interest in a larger breakfast.
He stayed in the feeder area all morning as volunteers took birds out of the traps.  Late in the morning he shocked us by flying down and catching a Downy Woodpecker at one of the suet feeders!  What a surprise!  Coopers and Sharp Shins regularly catch songbirds, but large hawks like Red Tails are generally not considered adept enough to catch small woodpeckers in heavily wooded areas of thick brush.  This hawk is breaking all the rules...which is exactly what you have to do to survive sometimes.  I'm sure it was one of our banded Downy Woodpeckers, but we will never know which one as he ate it all except a few wing feathers.

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