My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Finding things on the snow!


While coming home from work yesterday, I accidentally flushed a Red-tailed Hawk doing something behind the house. You know that look on a child’s face that something just happened and there is no way that they are going to tell you? Well, this was the same feeling I had with this Red-tailed Hawk who took off carrying something in its talons. I would have loved to follow it for a good photo opportunity but I needed to get the cats fed and get ready for the Kenn Kaufman talk. I did hiked through the deep snow for CSI – TOM to investigate those fallen remnants from under its perch (before I rudely interrupted is dinner). As everyone would have anticipated …. this hawk was feeding on a small mammal species and some plucked fur was blowing around the top of the snow (future mouse bedding). It is CSI – TOM’s SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) that this prey was probably a Red Squirrel that was captured (due to prey size when it flew away and by what the fur looked like). This must be the same Red-tailed Hawk who has been visiting the feeders on a regular basis this winter because this one bird has mastered the ability of catching those Red Squirrels. I think the Red-tailed Hawk needs some help because there are still many of those little guys running around the yard.


Other good news is that the Stoneflies are out running around on top of the snow this morning! The photo above shows an adult male/female going their separate ways (don’t ask what they were just doing before I took this photo). The adults are rarely found far from water because the nymph stage is spent underwater. These adult hatches are very important food for resident birds because you can have hundreds of these medium-sized, soft-bodied bugs in one location at one time. The birds will start gorging on them if one of these hatches is found. My first memorable encounter with Stoneflies was around 2001 when I was out Cross Country Skiing at another Nature Center that I worked at. I remember stopping and backing up for seeing all these black spots in such freshly laid snow. It was such an eye opener to me because I never would have expected to find all these insects gathered together like this on the snow (while it was snowing)! So, please take the time to look closely at the snow because you never know what you might be overlooking.

stonefly species

This stonefly species was about 1 cm in length.

To learn more about Stoneflies of the United States go to the NPWRS website or Wikipedia website.

Doing my slide program for the Allegany County Bird Club Friday evening! Will try to get online blogging and on flickr as soon as I can!! This is starting to become a very busy time of the year for me!

10 responses

  1. Love your squirrel-hawk write-up CSI-Tom!
    You say “don’t ask”, well you know I *have* to ask – what *were* those little stoneflies were up to before you took your photo! Hee hee! Making some bird-food! Yay!
    I saw something like this flying around the other day – I was surprised to see insect life in the freezing weather. Thanks for letting me know it was probably a stonefly.
    Please don’t stress over the blog & flickr commenting – I understand it’s getting to be an exciting time of year!

    1 March 2007 at 6:04 pm

  2. @ Pam – that’s a good way to discribe it – making more bird-food!! It is great having all this activity during the winter months!

    1 March 2007 at 8:17 pm

  3. Didi

    I really wish the Red tailed pick a mouse or a rat
    next time .. over here they take baby birds usually.
    have a great time at the Bird Club! 🙂

    1 March 2007 at 9:32 pm

  4. CSI Tom: Wonderful account of hawk doings. Kind of grim and I agree with Didi. You are so entertaining and funny as well as a good teacher.

    Enjoy your busy time of year. You can revel in it.

    1 March 2007 at 9:46 pm

  5. @ Didi – I think some of those birds will specialize on Rats like that one pair in downtown NY City!
    @ Mary – Thanks and things will start to slow a little down here soon!

    1 March 2007 at 10:11 pm

  6. J. Alan Hendricks

    I heard that KFC needs some help in NYC…haha..just an idea…Tom, the stoneflies were cool…once again I have to commend you on your pics…very nice.

    I never even thought about insects in the winter….interesting.

    2 March 2007 at 2:14 am

  7. Hendricks! Ya, heard about that on letterman!

    2 March 2007 at 11:00 pm

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever seen bugs in the snow before.

    3 March 2007 at 6:28 pm

  9. We got very excited yesterday watching a little insect crawl up the outside of the window. (my 5-year old is a bug-nut…she wants to be an entomologist when she grows up.)
    I had no idea some bugs could crawl around on snow! I was operating under the impression that all insects have a kind of “antifreeze” in their little veins, but that they all slept until it was warm.
    Pearls of wisdom here at this blog.

    3 March 2007 at 11:29 pm

  10. Barb – lots of things can be found in the snow!
    Susan – Very cool regarding the insect! They sure do and even some butterflies have that “antifreeze”!! Thanks for such kind words susan!

    4 March 2007 at 9:27 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s