Monday, November 15, 2010

Red-Tailed Hawk returns for Gray Squirrel

Dan writes:
A week ago I was walking through the pine forest in the north part of
the Delaney Project when I saw a red-tailed hawk being chased by a crow.
The hawk wasn't too happy to be chased, but he wasn't too eager to
leave the area, either. He'd fly to the next tall pine and perch
momentarily, before being driven off again.

A few hundred feet further down my path, I found a freshly-killed gray
squirrel. The squirrel was still warm to the touch, with fresh blood
around a fatal neck wound.

I moved off a ways and waited to see if the hawk would return to claim
his abandoned meal. But the forest was quiet, and the hawk and crow had
moved on. I hiked back to the other side of Delaney, picked up a remote
camera trap, and returned to the squirrel kill an hour later,
half-expecting it to be gone. But the squirrel lay exactly where I'd
left it, and so I quickly set up the camera and left the area.

When I returned a week later, the squirrel was gone, and not a trace of
the incident remained. A single image on the camera showed the
red-tailed hawk swooping down to fly off with the squirrel. The hawk
got his meal that same afternoon, about five hours after his initial
attempt was thwarted by the crow and the hiker.


  1. Ah, good – another happy ending. Dan, with your story-telling skills and ability to solve nature riddles, you could be working for Disney. Do you ever hear whistling in those woods, or catch glimpses of small men walking purposefully in single file?


  2. I'm pretty sure the Disney version of this tale wouldn't have involved a squirrel getting separated from his tail.

    Oddly enough, while I was standing on the trail reviewing the pictures on the camera, a small man traipsed by, whistling. He was dressed in camo from his head to his toe, and was carrying a fierce-looking archery bow.

    So just a reminder: wear your orange and keep your dogs close at this time of year. I'm staying out of areas where the deer are when I go off-trail, and I have moved my cameras to places where deer and deer hunters aren't likely to be.

  3. Well, yeah, but from the hawk's perspective, things ended well. (Remember that even in "Bambi" there is heartache aplenty before the little deer's ultimate triumph.) Interesting sighting of the diminutive archer dressed in camo. Thanks for the reminder regarding him and his ilk. My dog's orange vest will be back in use for a few weeks.