Sunday, August 26, 2007

Blakeman on the Hawk Through-The-Screen Episode.

Photo courtesy of The Janesville Gazette
Kramer the cat and his master standing in the hole in the screen made by the immature hawk.
John Blakeman, long time blog contributer on all things Red-tail, expresses his opinion about the Hawk through the screen episode in Janesville, Wisconsin.

John wrote:


The immature red-tailed hawk that attacked the cat was surely starving. Here's the story behind the story.

It's now the end of August, the end of summer. The heat (and in both Ohio and Wisconsin---the rain) is yet with us. But hawks reckon time primarily by day length, and the days are getting markedly shorter. In less than a month the autumnal equinox will appear, where the day and night periods are (sort of) equal.

Because of the shortening days, adult red-tails are no longer feeding any of their offspring. The fledged red-tails that have survived until now (many haven't, probably half who left the nest in June are now dead), must now find food on their own. Mom and Pop offer no assistance.

It's worse. Mom and Pop have driven their immature offspring out of the nest area and territory, pushing the youngsters out into unknown regions that usually are less than ideal hunting areas. Food is getting very hard to find. There are very few baby rabbits or bobbing baby robins to pluck off the ground. Vegetation is now tall and thick, making the sighting of voles more difficult than in early summer.

Altogether, it's survival crunch time, and the majority of the year's fledged red-tails are in the process of starving to death. Fewer than 25% or so will survive the winter and go on to their second years. Most won't be able to find a fall or winter territory with enough food to support them.

Surely, that is the case with the cat-attacking red-tail. The hawk saw the big, slow-moving animal with fur. The starving hawk couldn't resist.

Fortunately, it was unable to connect with the cat and was released back to the sky. But in reality, the hawk will probably be dead within a month. Survivors have already learned where and how to capture sufficient voles, ground squirrels, and other small rodents that are the sustenance of red-tailed hawks.

Life is tough in nature. Most offspring, of all species, fail to attain adulthood or to breed. There are more losers than winners. This was a loser, sadly.


John Blakeman

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