Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red-shouldered Hawk

Fans of Monty Python will know that the Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in the image is neither "resting," "stunned," nor "pining for the fjords." This partly because it is a Red-shouldered Hawk and not a Norwegian Blue Parrot, but mostly because it was hit by an automobile and killed. Owls and hawks suffer such fatal encounters with motor vehicles because they hunt the roadside clearings for small mammals. While on their glide path to the roadside from their powerline or treeline perch, the raptors are focused on their prey and oblivious to the high-speed danger approaching on a collision course.

As the hawk specimen was in such fine shape and was brought to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest immediately after being struck and killed, we decided to preserve it for a display in the nature center.

Paul Rhymer of Maryland is a taxidermist and model-maker for the Smithsonian Institution and has been sent from the Smithsonian to Mongolia to assist them with their natural history displays. He is also a nationally award-winning sculptor. As a sculptor exhibiting at Summerville’s "Sculpture in the South" each year, he and his wife have visited Beidler Forest often. When he was asked for a recommendation for a taxidermist in our area to mount the hawk, he generously offered to do it for us as a gift – as long as we weren’t in a hurry! We very gratefully accepted his offer, and he brought the hawk to us during his recent participation at Sculpture in the South 2009. Mr. Rhymer has a permanent sculpture "Free Ride" in Summerville’s Shepherd Park.

Images by Mark Musselman

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