As I mentioned in my prior post of a juvenile Northern Harrier, Crow Chaser, many of the fields at the Ridgefield NWR had recently been mowed and baled. The bales made perfect spots for Red-tailed Hawks to perch and wait for voles and mice to make deadly mistakes in the low-cut grass near the bales. I watched a pair of young hawks fly to a bale, sit and wait for a while, then launch toward a potential target, repeatedly, for about an hour. They would tire of setting on one bale for too long and would fly to other nearby bales of hay to change their luck. One of the pair of birds decided to fly to a bale relatively close to the road, about 60-70 feet away. In about 20 minutes, I observed this bird catching and consuming two mice within 25 feet of the bale. The bird seems to have honed his hunting skills very well.
This image shows the bird ‘running’ toward the bale after a successful catch, after which it flew to the top of the bale and consumed its prize. Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f4, ISO 800, 500mm, 7:59 a.m.
For a larger picture, please click here! You can see the mouse a little better.