Red-tailed Hawk Encounter

I just have too many photos that I took Tuesday during what the local weathermen are calling "an inconvenient snow" (because it was only 2 inches that fell, but it hit during rush hour snarling traffic in the worst way). The first was the snowy owl and then I headed over to the Minnesota Valley NWR Visitor Center. I figured the feeders would be active between the snow and the sub zero temps.

They were so active, I have to divide up what I saw, otherwise we might get 45 photos in one blog entry.

One of the coolest things that happened was as I was leaving the visitor center. A young red-tailed hawk (young because the tail is brown and stripey, not brick red like it would be on an adult) was perched on the parking lot security camera. I wanted to get home because it was after 3pm and I knew with the snow, traffic would be snarled. I took a few shots and walked to my car.

I tried not to stare at the hawk while I walked to my car. Staring can make a bird nervous and this one seemed to be actively hunting and I didn't want to add to its effort in the cold and snow. It paid very little attention to me and I digiscoped one more image before my aching, freezing fingers alerted me that they had had enough. I opened my car door and turn to load in my scope when I heard what I can only describe as hawk wings hitting something (I hear it from time to time at The Raptor Center and at the hawk blind). I looked up and saw that the red-tail was no longer on the camera post and at first thought that it had flown away, but that would not account for the sound I heard. Then I looked to my left and just a few yards away in the grass I saw...

The hawk with some sort of prey, I think it's a mouse! Fortunately, my scope was still up, I quickly slid the camera adaptor back on the scope (thank goodness for that DCA adaptor) and got the above photo. My camera batteries finally died right after I took it but I watched the hawk swallow the rodent whole and then it took off.

It took a good five minutes before feeling returned to my fingers and I got stuck in traffic, but it was so worth it to see that!