28 June, 2015 Warning: graphic images – hawk catches a rabbit
The graphic images in this post are of a recently dead rabbit clutched in the talons of a male Red-tailed hawk. I took them Wednesday afternoon about 4:00 while I was driving home from the Y. They’re not particularly gory, but if you find the sight of a dead rabbit upsetting you may want to skip over them. I’ll put them closer to the bottom of the post so you can skip them if you’re so inclined.
I’ve taken lots of other pictures this week, of course. Here’s one nobody could object to. I was walking the dogs past Freeman High School Tuesday morning (three minutes walk from my house) when I looked up and saw this gorgeous bluebird on a wire:
This is the American Flag flying in front of the school:
And this mockingbird was singing on the same wire as the bluebird:
My friend Ethan and I were hiking at Pony Pasture Thursday afternoon when we looked down and saw an Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). Ethan has been a Box Turtle aficionado for many years and even “adopted a wild box turtle” named “Wilson” from the Wildlife Center of Virginia. So he knows from box turtles. The turtle we saw Thursday was alive and well, just taking a break beside the trail. Ethan took several pictures of it. Since he used my camera, I got to choose my favorite one – here it is – great job Ethan!:
Same day I got another Blue Dancer, they’re so photogenic:
Another nice 5-lined skink; this was all on the same day:
I’m going to start the hawk pictures in a minute, so sign off soon if you don’t want to see them. They’re not particularly awful. I see plenty of rabbits that get hit by cars. These pictures are less bad than that.
One more picture from Thursday at Pony Pasture, this one from the morning (I love to visit twice a day when I can). I’ve become less fastidious (I’ve mentioned before) about identification recently. And I got a “new” dragonfly this week! I haven’t posted it yet on bugguide.net to get a positive ID but they’ll help me out when I send it to them. They’re terrific. Unless a blog follower wants to ID it first – you’ll be credited here right away! Have a look:
[This just in from Anne: that is a female Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa). Thank you Anne!]
OK, hawk pictures – somewhat gory but not horrible. PG or perhaps PG-13. You won’t faint – I promise. But if that’s a chance you’d prefer not to take, better you should sign off now.
Coming home from the Y I take a short cut to my house. It goes right along the power line. The hawks love to sit on top of the towers and I glanced up and saw the female. So I stopped to snap a picture but I must have a thousand of these:
There was commotion down below and I looked down and saw the male sitting on a very tall tree stump – probably twelve feet tall. A mockingbird was harassing him mercilessly, but that’s a day-in/day-out interaction between hawks and mockingbirds. You can see the mockingbird in this picture to the left. You can also see the hawk’s foot on the rabbit. It’s obvious now, but at the time I had no idea. You can also really see how the hawks get the name “red tail” in this image:
Almost literally that second, the hawk decided to gain some altitude. He took his meal and flew up to the crossbar of a low power line. This was when I first realized he was carrying additional luggage:
One last picture of the hawk with his meal. It’s a bit more of a closeup, but more of the hawk’s face than the detail on the rabbit. What I was going for here was the hawk’s face – it was hot and he was panting from the effort. It never crossed my mind before that moment that hawks – or any birds – pant in the heat but there you go. That’s a male and he probably doesn’t weigh much over two pounds. Definitely not three. And that rabbit is not a baby. And according to the Penn State Biology Department, “Cottontails… weigh between two and three pounds.” So think of how much effort it must be to fly with that thing. Incredible. Think about climbing a flight of stairs carrying something that weighs as much as you do. Anyway, here he is, panting, but holding a lot of calories:
To editorialize a tiny bit, if there is anyone still reading who has a soft spot for rabbits. I have a soft spot for rabbits too; who doesn’t? They’re mammals and so am I. Hawks are not. But if you see a hawk that is an unsuccessful hunter, conjure up an image of a nest filled with hungry baby hawks. Dead rabbits are a disturbing image. Hungry baby hawks are a disturbing image. It’ll be one or the other. That’s why Joseph Campbell says “Life lives on life.”
I’ll close this post with another plant. Another one – they keep appearing – that’s a mystery to me. I haven’t consulted with my elite corps of plant ID people yet. Watch this space though! And have a great week! Final plant: – wait – got a possibility – this may be a Gooseneck Loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides). If I’m wrong, please inform me: [Incorrect! Thank you Kim and Betsy and Anne! That is a Lizard’s Tail (Saururus cernuus)]