Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
|Sunday 4th February 2007, 02:47||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Houston, Texas
White-tailed Red-tailed Hawk and Crested Caracara feeding on Coyote carcass
When visiting Lower Rio Grande Valley end of the December I decided one day to drive around northern part of Hidalgo County. About noon, I noticed a several Turkey Vultures and a few Crested Caracaras around Juvenile White-tailed Hawk who was feeding on the carcass not far away from the road. Later I could identify carcass as a freshly killed Coyote (killed probably night before by a car – big bloodstain was noticeable on the side of the road). I spent there, in two days; total of more then 10 hours observing feeding birds. I am sure my presence had impact on birds’ behavior, but still, I was able to make many observations documented on photographs. My presence had biggest impact on Turkey Vultures, they all left after a short time of my presence and came back only a couple of times but never get very close to the carcass again.
At that moment I would like to make a note that some of the photos are very graphic and I would not recommend to check them before or after a meal. Definitely not during one.
White -tailed Hawk http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331378
Red-tailed Hawk http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331341
Crested Caracara http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331396
Waiting Turkey Vulture http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331569
During first afternoon juvenile White-tailed Hawk spent several hours next to the carcass eating it most of the time. Later in the evening hawk flown away to near perch and stayed there. Another juvenile and adult White-tailed Hawk were flying over from time to time sometimes landing on the field but never too close. Crested Caracaras were impatiently walking around feeding hawk, sometimes flying away landing on far corner of the field but keep coming back to the carcass. When flying back they always landed at the far distance and walked to the carcass. Finally when hawk left to perch Crested Caracara started to feed for rest of the evening. Next morning I found juvenile White-tailed Hawk and Caracaras already around the carcass before sunrise. When I left for a few hours and came back I found Red-tailed Hawk http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331343 feeding with Crested Caracaras waiting around but they kept much greater distance then with juvenile White-tailed. When this hawk left, for rest of the day, Caracaras start feeding. Unfortunately at middle of night that day I had to leave for my planned trip to Mexico so I was unable to continue observations. In this post I will only present a few notes about raptors feeding on the carcass. As I had opportunity to spend many hours with interacting birds and observing interesting behaviors of Crested Caracaras I will write about it in separate chapter.
Caracaras are feeding on carcasses very often. Red-tailed and White-tailed Hawks are known to do that from time to time, many cases were reported, but it is not that easy to find them doing it, get close and photograph. It is reported that when other live food become scarce many of those hawks will look for carcasses to feed on. With so many hawks wintering now in the Valley I am sure getting enough live food is not an easy task.
I would like here to share a few observations, showed on photographs that might be of interest to people who do not have possibilities to see those types of events in person in the field. Also, I remember that before I started to observe raptors in the field, I always was visualize the process of feeding on carcass as something that progress very fast, large pieces of meat are tear off and swallow. Quite appositive. Especially Caracaras who were taking only very small pieces at the time. But as one can see on some photos their were able to engorge their crops with those small pieces of food. Here crop starts to bulge and start to be visible between the feathers..
Here, as an example, is one of the largest pieces of torn off flesh. http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331432
And average one: http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331398
Both hawks were feeding in slower pace then Caracaras and they did not use leg to hold the carcass. Sometimes when trying to tear off a piece of tissue they spread wings to hold the balance. http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331388 White-tailed
Caracaras were feeding very fast and much more efficient, often using one leg to hold the carcass when puling.
White-tailed Hawk was defecating 4-5 times per hour when taking a short breaks from eating to do so. It not even bother to walk away and immediately after was returning to eat. I did not notice another species defecate at all. Red-tailed was observed only for short period of time but all 5 Caracaras were there almost all the time and feeding a lot - I did not notice them defecate around the carcass.
Both hawks when feeding were not disturbed by waiting around Caracaras even that those were impatience. (and both hawks never were around carcass at the same time). Only one time juvenile Caracara tried to call when throwing its head back (I will write much more about that behavior in my next post) when close but without any reaction from White-tailed Hawk who was too busy feeding at that time. On one occasion (second day) juvenile White-tailed Hawk took for a moment typical posture blocking juvenile Caracara access (when one got very close) spreading wings low and keep feeding. http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331553 Please remember that Coyote carcass is very small so there in no space anyway for many birds to feed together.
Here are rest of selected photographs from the feeding: http://www.pbase.com/mbb/lrgv_dec_26...coyote_carcass
As mention before hawks often were flying around, http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331797 sometimes so close that I could not even fit them in the frame http://www.pbase.com/mbb/image/73331794 many more photos on the wing are here: http://www.pbase.com/mbb/lrgv_dec_26_27_2006_raptors
|Sunday 4th February 2007, 02:58||#2|
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Buffalo, New York
|Wednesday 14th February 2007, 17:23||#3|
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Kingman, AZ
|Saturday 19th May 2007, 04:21||#9|
Birdwatcher in Oz
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: NSW, Australia
Spectacular Photos!! Thanks for sharin! :)
birding makes me feel sane in an insane world.
|Rate This Thread|
|Thread||Thread Starter||Forum||Replies||Last Post|
|China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2007 List||ChinaBirds||Member's Lists 2007||38||Sunday 30th December 2007 17:17|
|China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2006 List||ChinaBirds||Member's Lists 2006||12||Friday 29th December 2006 22:39|