Red-tailed Hawk with Squirrel
By: Pat Coate
With a few hours to kill while my daughter had an appointment up in Buffalo, I decided to make quick visits to a couple birding spots along the Niagara River. One stop was Goat Island, which is on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. Just as I drove into the parking lot a red-tailed hawk carrying some prey flew over me then disappeared into the nearby woods. I thought the odds of seeing it again were low, so I headed down to see the falls and to walk along the pedestrian bridge to see what gulls were around. As I was returning I happened upon the hawk in a tree right along the road. My first thought was “how lucky”, followed immediately by “I’m glad I’m not a squirrel.”
This very formidable bird was deeply engrossed in its meal and didn’t seem to be bothered by me or the crowd that gathered after I started taking pictures.
There wasn’t much left, but the hawk gathered up the remains and headed back into the woods.
On a recent drive to the Chicago area, I counted over 60 red-tailed hawks along the way (one way, and I am sure there were many I missed). Red-tailed hawks are prevalent along highways but I think the numbers were higher than usual for this trip due to the time of year – during winter migrants from more northern regions mix with the resident hawks.
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