Actually this Red-shouldered Hawk is just finishing up a fat, tasty, earthworm.
Heading into the city I spied this female Redshoulder crossing over from the lagoon.
She was heading toward some familiar perches and proceeded to land and survey the bushes below.
Something caught her eye.
A snake! What a catch, for her and for me.
**BE WARNED… this one is going to get gruesome y’all.
Raptors look as raptors do because raptors do what raptors do. They kill things daily. They look fierce because that brow ridge protects their precious eyes during all manner of prey related entanglements. That down-curved bill tapering to a point makes short work of anything that resembles flesh.
“they look so regal…” “they look so dignified and proud…” “they look so cool”
Yup, they look that way because they are predators. IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH TURN BACK NOW. SERIOUSLY. Two pictures down is a mouse getting its head and face removed. No joke.
A Red-tailed Hawk doesn’t have the slightest thing resembling mercy. It has a thing called hunger, and it must be satisfied. Cue head and face removal photo…
There is no caption that can fix this.
This girl Cooper’s Hawk is too young to hunt on her own so she gets meals delivered by her parents.
The adults often prepared the food by removing the feathers and head (a commission for the hunt). Any guesses on dinner? House Sparrow? House Finch?
Red-shouldered Hawk looking regal? Noble? Dignified?
Here it is eating a freshly caught pigeon. It worked on it for a long… long time.
This is all that remained.
All that pigeon now resides in the hawk’s crop and it is not a flattering look. I honestly wondered if it could even fly.
The answer was no… it could only waddle up into a tree and sit for hours. How’s that for dignified?
I’ll leave you with another fairly intense image of another bird of prey – the fiendishly cold-blooded Great Blue Heron.
The skies above the Palace of Fine Arts are patrolled and the unwritten laws are enforced…
Red-shouldered Hawks are among the most frequent violators and the neighborhood watchers dutifully spring into action.
Presidio, San Francisco, CA.
No better way to spend an afternoon than meandering through Point Reyes National Seashore. I felt a sense of urgency on this day as the light was already golden when I left the house. This Red-shouldered Hawk still managed to stop me in my tracks well before I’d even arrived at Point Reyes.
A female American Kestrel hover hunting the hillside looking for small rodents and insects.
Got one! She caught at least 5 insects in the 5 minutes I spent watching her.
I walked into this barn to photograph the view of the ocean framed in the window and two Northern Flickers flitted around in the rafters, eventually heading out through these very windows.
I found one of them waiting in the sunlight on the ridge of the roof.
In the distance, a Red-tailed Hawk hunts above the rolling hills. The raking light making any movement below highly visible. Even small gophers cast long shadows in conditions like this.
Aspirational grass. It has a great view from its island.
A stooping male Kestrel sent these Starlings skyward before it settled onto that pole on the right. They swirled around him a few times before returning to their comunal roost. A nice way to start the evening.
A young Red-shouldered Hawk I found below a nest years ago. It had been reared by a very young mother, a second year bird whose molt had stopped during breeding and left her with both juvenal and adult plumage. Her nest building skills were subpar and the nest failed to hold her two chicks, one of whom perished. This pre-fledged bird was checked out at a local rehab facility then returned to a basket in the tree. He fledged 2 weeks later. Now I know that when I hear a Redshoulder screaming right in front of me and I still can’t locate it, I should look down.
Close encounters can happen almost anywhere in San Francisco.
As a photographer I’m happy and amazed at how comfortable some birds get in an urban setting. In the countryside it is a simple matter to relocate but the city offers limited green space and the birds learn to figure out what the real threats are.
Alta Plaza Park used to be a great spot to see hunting hawks up close but I think things have changed. It used to have a resident Redtail every year but I haven’t seen one lately.
This image may be a repost but it fits with the theme and is one of my favorites. This is a Red-shouldered Hawk hunting rats in the Presidio.
It isn’t just raptors that reside in the city. Great Blue Herons are another “bird of prey” that make a living here too. (CLICK HERE) More tomorrow…
Here is a lovely molty Shoulder with prey in Bolinas, not far from my house. I happened upon this hunt on my drive home and it affirms my notion that any hawk on a pole can be worth stopping for.
It left the roadside perch and headed to a distant row of pines.
Spotted a Gopher and dove straight down onto it.
Fled along the fence line to find a quiet place to feast.
Double checked for nearby threats before digging in. A raven landed on a nearby branch and the hawk took its meal to go (see the very first pic).
A Red-shouldered Hawk relocates to a ledge under an overpass after hunting for rats from the hydrant. Yet another reason to love San Francisco.
Red-shouldered Hawks at the Palace of Fine Arts got accustomed to catching pigeons for a living.
A Red-shouldered Hawk with a Pigeon at the Palace of Fine Arts.
Caught by the leg and the wing, a Pigeon goes for a ride courtesy a Red-shouldered Hawk. The mobbing Crow caused the hawk to drop its prey and the Pigeon swam to shore and survived.
A Red-shouldered Hawk goes fishing! The first photographic documentation of this behaviour.