Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Red-tailed Hawk's "Long" Lunch

The Red-tailed Hawk is a familiar site throughout Western NY.
Not far from our home in the town of Batavia is a tract of land consisting of some large fields, hedgerows, a couple of ponds, a small creek and small woodlots. In one of the fields is a pair of aged oak trees which serve as both a perch and look-out post for the resident Red-tail hawk who calls this place home. More often than not, whenever I drive down the road that leads into the area, the Red-tail hawk takes flight as soon the tires of my pickup make contact with the gravel surface.

But this day was different. For starters the hawk wasn’t perched in either of the towering oaks. Instead, it was situated in a much smaller tree alongside the roadway, and literally within a stone’s throw from my vehicle. I stopped the truck, readied the camera and, much to my delight, the hawk stayed put. What’s more, I could see that it wasn’t paying me any mind whatsoever. It was intently staring at something on the ground, almost directly below. 
The bird clearly had something pinned beneath it.
In an instant, the bird "dropped" to the ground and pounced on it's prey. I was about 40 yards away and couldn’t make out what it was so I continued taking photos, focusing solely on the hawk.    

The raptor takes a quick look to see if the coast is clear.
Getting back to the task at hand, the hawk uses its talons to hold
 the quarry in place  and, as I would soon discover......decapitate it.
The meal in question turned out to be a snake, sans head.
My best guess of this shot is the hawk was having a harder time than
expected swallowing the snake.  Even without a head it was probably
still writhing around on it's way down the hatch.  
While I say kudos to the Red-tail, this was not the first time I’ve seen winged predators of various species and sizes make a meal of a snake. I’ve seen birds like Great Blue herons fly off with a snake dangling from its bill and the much smaller Grackle do likewise.  Has ever a creature of the wild been frowned upon with more disdain than the lowly snake?
Genesis 3:14 “And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And dust shall you eat all the days of your life.”

Until next time, 
Jim & Claudia