Sept 23, 2018
(from the nature blog Eyes on the Wild of one of our docents and board member, Moira Yip)
Two of these hawks have been hunting round my bird feeder and squirrel tree. They swoop on the squirrels, and yesterday one caught either a red squirrel or a chipmunk, or perhaps a vole. I couldn’t see clearly, but it had something in its talons when it took off again from the thicket.
They are woodland hunters, and this is their typical modus operandi, perching on a low branch concealed in the foliage, preparing to make a short glide down onto their prey. Here he/she is, caught just after take-off swooping vertically down from the branch for the successful attack.
They eat small mammals, birds and insects. Squirrels are large prey for them, but this one certainly had its eyes on a large meal!
I was somewhat puzzled by the fact that one day there were two of them swooping around, pretty much doing a synchronized aerial ballet thing. They didn’t seem to be competing , and given that one was a juvenile, I am guessing the other might have been its mother? Or maybe it was a prelude to migration, though I have seen one several times since.
I am lucky to have observed all this because they tend to avoid human dwellings. They only appear when I am alone, never when others are with me.