Monday, October 19, 2009

Hunting Hawk

The Master Naturalists from the Georgetown area took the tour of the 1.75-mile boardwalk and paddled the canoe trail through the old-growth, cypress-tupleo swamp, but the highlight of the day happened in the parking area of the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. While enjoying lunch, the group observed another diner in the forest.

One of the master naturalists spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in an attack glide that took it to the leaf litter on the forest floor. Although it appeared to have missed its intended target, the bird either reacquired it or found a new target on a nearby sapling. The hawk launched from the ground, fluttered perpendicular to the tree's trunk, and grasped with its talons at its intended meal. Red-shouldered Hawks will eat rodents, snakes, lizards, and insects. Flying off, it was easy to see that the hawk had a Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis) in its talons.

During this cold snap, be glad that warming yourself in the sun like the lizard does not invite death from above!

Images by Mark Musselman

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