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Red-shouldered hawk overtime!

A red-shouldered hawk soars over the wetlands

Shot by Ranger Robert a few days back, the red-shouldered hawk in the photo below, along with its mate, have been hunting with a purpose in recent days. That means one thing, there are nestlings back at the nest who need to be fed.

Hawk samples large bullfrog before delivering the rest to nestlings (note bullfrog head on right of branch, legs dangling from left side of branch)(Photo: Ranger Robert).

That’s a sizable frog the hawk is sampling, no doubt a bullfrog. Red-shouldered hawks measure about 1.5’ – 2’ from head to tail tip. The frog appears nearly as long.

Red-shouldered hawks in our location capture many frogs and snakes. In fact, herps make up the most often observed prey item for red-shouldereds here at the museum. Though they also consume small mammals like chipmunks, rats, and voles, those items are not as common as the reptiles and amphibians I most often see the hawks engaged with.

A red-shouldered hawk with pickerel frog in right talon.

The hawks are also seen hunting for and capturing red swamp crayfish. A sure sign a red-shouldered hawk has been eating crayfish is the empty decapod’s body cavity and claws left on the boardwalk railing.

All that remains of red swamp crayfish consumed by a hawk.

This is a good time of year to observe the hawks’ activities given the need to hunt not only for themselves but their nestlings.

Keep your eyes open for them as you walk the outdoor loop trail!