Raptor Wednesday

This Red-tailed Hawk in Green-Wood picked up a songbird and took into a pine to pluck. The prey was tiny, possibly a kinglet, hardly seemed worth the effort, and yet…In the top picture, you can see some feathers blowing off to the right. A clump came down to me.Same area, earlier. There were two, sometimes three RTs overhead at one point.

These big Buteos are not renown as bird-hunters, but they can mix songbirds as well as pigeons in with their more typical mammalian prey. Flexibility in diet must be one key to their adaptability to human environments.

2 Responses to “Raptor Wednesday”


  1. 1 Paul Lamb November 15, 2018 at 5:27 am

    I’ve wondered about the cost/benefit ratio of hunting prey. Is there enuf caloric gain from the tiny bird to offset the caloric burn in catching it?

    • 2 mthew November 15, 2018 at 3:32 pm

      Good question. I witnessed another incident in the same general area more recently (there will be pictures eventually), this time what looked like a thrush was taken on the ground before the hawk carried it to a tree to eat, all in about three minutes. It could be a question of opportunism. There were tons of birds around this fall in Green-Wood Cemetery, a very rich migration season, but most have cleared out by now (I’m typing during our first snowfall). Back to mammals? These hunting forays take effort, and most are misses. Red-tails seem to go after whatever is available.


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