Deep snow increases the number of small birds and mammals visiting the feeder beside the house. All of this activity attracts the attention of larger winged predators like this Red-tailed Hawk.
I found a rabbit that had been hit on the road and moved it to a safe location behind the house. The township used a grader to clear the deep snow from the road, leaving two foot high vertical walls of ice on each side. This makes it difficult for small animals to get clear of traffic. Scavengers are then at risk when they sit on the road to feast.
The hawk was quick to begin work on the rabbit.
It wasn’t long before the hawk’s meal was disturbed. A crow landed between the hawk and the camera and began inching its way towards the rabbit.
Two more crows joined the first. The hawk arched its wings over its meal, but the crows continued to move in.
In its attempt to relocate to a more secure location, the hawk dropped its meal just a few feet from its previous location. I headed out to see what shape the rabbit was in. A large portion had been consumed in the short amount of time the hawk had to feed.
My arrival to examine the rabbit caused the crows to leave the scene. The hawk waited in a nearby tree. A few minutes after my return to the house, the hawk swooped in, grabbed the remains of its meal and headed off.
For the past couple of years, a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks have been regular visitors to the yard. They seem most interested in pursuing mice and chipmunks around the bird feeders, but I’ve also seen them chasing squirrels and young rabbits in the yard.
They also benefit by what I call the crow feeding station, where I deposit kitchen scraps and other edibles, such as road kills, for foraging birds and small mammals.
On this day, I hadn’t put anything out that I thought would satisfy a hawk, but the hawk seemed interested in something.
Then it swallowed down a piece of overdone grilled cheese sandwich. I knew that offering would be welcomed by the crows, but not by this guy.
The hawk finished off the rest of the sandwich before departing. I got the feeling that its final look in my direction was trying to convey the message that I had better offer something more meaty next time.