Monday, December 01, 2008
Red-tailed Hawk Winter Hunt
Winter settled in long before the solstice this year. Today is the first "snow day" for children who take a school bus as we had a heavy snowfall overnight. My husband spent an hour before he left for work at 6:30 am clearing our driveway and sidewalks with the snowblower. I am very thankful for him!
Over the weekend we did have some sunshine and I drove to the nearby landfill site which is being transformed into a park. This summer the city graded the big hill which has been popular with sledders for many years. They added a parking lot, benches and new fencing to keep children from sliding on the roadway. It was a nice place to enjoy the sunshine and get some fresh air.
I watched as a large hawk flew back and forth hunting for prey on the snow covered ground. A pair of Red-tailed hawks have staked this territory and are commonly seen in the neighbourhood. I have seen them in the air and on tree branches, but never on the ground. I followed the hunter with my binoculars and watched as it caught a mouse in a small area that was not snow covered.
It cannot be easy for large birds of prey to survive our winters. I saw a Coopers hawk over our bird feeders yesterday and would not chase it away if it targeted a meal in my yard. Our resident red squirrel alerted me the to hawk's presence as it squealed loudly and ran under the fence. Nature has its own checks and balances as the most vigilant and healthy creatures are less likely to be the target of a predator's attack. The hawk can have as many house sparrows as it wants, but I know it will not be selective by species.
How easy it is for us to forget what survival means as we spend the winter in heated homes and drive to the supermarket for food.