Raptor Wednesday

A field trip to Great Swamp NWR was a field day for raptors. There were several road-side Red-tailed along the way as well as inside the NWR’s bounds. A pair of soaring birds turned out to be a Sharp-shinned and a Broad-winged. We saw a Merlin and a Kestrel. Two birds that were probably a pair of Cooper’s Hawks shot across the front of the car before we got inside the bounds of the NWR. We also stopped at the Raptor Trust, a rehabilitation center, but more on that later. Buteo lineatusThe raptor highlight of the day was a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) eating a snake while it was bombarded by a pair of tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Traci and Nate get the glory for spotting this.

Sibley notes that Red-shouldered Hawks are reptile and amphibian specialists. This one proceeded to devour the snake from the head down with small rips and tears. Except for the end, the snake’s end: the remaining last several inches of the snake were swallowed whole.

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