Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fresh Kill

Becky called me to the kitchen door to show me the large wet hawk perched in a low tree adjacent to our lane. Its white breast and tail were easily seen as the hawk was facing our door. A closer look revealed wet head feathers and a sinister looking beak. Identification of a perched raptor is a challange, but we were quite certain that a female marsh hawk was in our tree.

My next task was to begin clearing the mess that the weather had left us. Snow fell overnight followed by freezing rain then rain. Subzero temperatures are forecast for tonight so I had a narrow window to plow the driveway. Cleaning the ramp from the basement is the first part of the job. Early on I checked and the hawk was still in the tree. As I cleared more of the ramp I became more visible above ground and a second look found the tree empty.

An hour later I found this stained snow very close to the house. There are no footprints near the kill so both predator and prey came from the sky. A mourning dove was likely the prey judging from the scattered feathers and the size of the print in the snow. The previously perched marsh hawk is the likely predator.

We like to view the natural world as beautiful and peaceful but in reality something is always giving up life to become anothers meal. Our fingerprints are all over this because the doves flock to our seed feeder. Hawk follows doves. I have never seen a circling hawk dive toward food. Today this kill could have happened near me while I was looking groundward shoveling snow.

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