On October 15 I published a photo by Phil Rowntree showing a Red-tailed Hawk apparently fleeing a Ground Squirrel that popped up behind it. See “Crazy Squirrel,” 10/15/21. Possibly the hawk read that item, or the Red-tail Hawk Association’s PR department read it, and decided that this humiliation to the Buteo famiglia was intolerable. Revenge followed less than two weeks later. As park visitor Peter Illes watched, this big red-tail pounced on a squirrel that was recklessly scampering on the roof of the marine repair shop next door to the park. The end came swiftly.
We’ve seen Red-tailed Hawks feeding on a variety of prey in and around the park, but by the time the photographer came to the scene, the meal was devoured beyond identification. Peter’s photo above is the first clear and solid documentation I’ve seen that Red-tailed Hawks can and do take Ground Squirrels as prey here and now. The arc of the bushy tail hanging over the edge of the post leaves no doubt.
Peter didn’t know that his picture makes a case. He just loves to walk, be out in nature, and do all he can to protect the natural environment.