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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Red-tailed Hawk versus Gray Squirrel

I was walking along the Nethermead Meadow footpath that parallels Center Drive when I inadvertently startled a Red-tailed Hawk on the ground. It was standing over a freshly killed squirrel. I didn't want to stress the raptor, so I headed to a tree several yards to the South. Using the tree as a blind, I watched as a second red-tail flew in, presumably to steal the squirrel away from the first hunter. The second hawk was noticeably larger than the first and the standoff ended quickly with the first surrendering the prey and flying up into a nearby tree. During this time the squirrel suddenly came to life and began to slink away. He didn't look very well, hopelessly stumbling, but seemed to be fighting to the end. As the gray mammal dragged himself towards the tree I was hiding behind, the hawk followed, attempting to land a kill shot with stabs from her razor-sharp talons. When the hawk spotted me peering out from behind the tree, she stopped, allowing the injured squirrel to escape up the trunk and into the safety of a cavity.

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