Monday, February 7, 2011

Life and Death Struggle at the Bird Feeder

Late last afternoon, I heard a commotion outside.  I went to the window, and saw a red-tailed hawk, struggling with a Mallard duck.  I grabbed my camera and got one quick shot, before the Mallard broke free and both birds flew away.  I hope that the duck wasn't severely injured in the struggle, and will survive.

I'm going to put the picture up, because it's something not many of us will see in our lifetime.  It's not the best.  The birds were moving quickly, and it's somewhat blurry.  I'm also going to put it up small.  It's not graphic or bloody, but I realize that it may be something that not everyone will want to get a closeup view of.  If you want to see it larger, please click on it.

22 comments:

texwisgirl said...

Yeah, nature is not always "pretty" by our standards. Reality of the food chain. We see plenty of that here - usually not something as large as an adult mallard though. That is rare. I've seen hawks take 'pre-teen' ducklings that hadn't yet feathered out but never an adult. I too hope it got away relatively unscathed.

Madi and Mom said...

Morning Louise....the cycle of life goes on right and that is just how it is. The other week when the hawk was in a tree over my feeders I stood on the deck until he left. LOL What would I have done if he decided to land on my head.

Anyway that particular time crisis averted. All my feeders have a dome over them. The only ground feeding birds I have a very small so we'll just have to see. The predator in our 'hood is a stray cat. I once saw it jump straight up from the ground to grab a beautiful cardinal off a tray feeder. I was so upset I almost took all my feeders down...then I came to my senses.
Hugs
Madi and Mom

Jim said...

Louise, this happens all the time in the wild, we just don't witness it like you have. It happened here as well....a hawk got a Mourning Dove on the ground under the feeders and killed it. As you know it's all a part of the 'food chain' but not so easy to watch.

Canyon Girl said...

I know it's hard to watch, but they all have to eat. Once as I sat at my dining room table, I saw a coyote sneak up on a groundsquirrel that noticed it was in danger too late and didn't make it to its hole. I felt bad for it but it was fair, I felt.

wiseacre said...

got to eat. I feel sorry for the hawk.

Tina said...

I know it's all part of the circle of life, but I hate when it happens in my backyard...I can't watch.

Dreaming said...

Not pretty, but necessary. When you see the hawks soaring and hunting they truly are beautiful. The fact that the duck flew sounds like it was good news.
We lived in the woods in SC. Our cat, all of about 6 pounds, knew she was hawk bait. She would instinctively choose a path under the bushes in our yard when she went out.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

oh my, but yes, the circle of life

Liesl said...

Louise you captured a action packed moment there,good job! Yes nature is hard and I suppose the hawk must have been terribly hungry to have tried to capture such a big duck!

Sheri said...

Quick thinking with your camera work, Louise. Better a hawk than the neighbour's cat!

Sharon said...

Sad, I know, but hawks have to eat too. I'm just glad we aren't their prey!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The Circle of Life.

Quick thinking on your part. :)

~Lisa

Gary said...

That hawk must be under severe hungar stress to try and tackle a duck. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada. PS Thanks for help with dog story. There was a rally in BC of dog people headed by the local rescue dog rescue group. So the pressure remains on.

Janet said...

ok I`am a wimp ! glad the mallard got away ! x

KB said...

That's a big bird for a red-tailed hawk to go for. I agree with you - I hope that the mallard isn't suffering. What an amazing scene for you to see.

One day here, my husband was gazing out the window when a Cooper's hawk snagged a Stellar's Jay (like a big blue jay) out of the air. The struggle went on and on. The other Stellar's Jays in the area started dive-bombing the hawk, and the captured jay eventually escaped after what seemed like 5 min. I wondered the same thing that you did - if the jay really had any chance of survival.

That's the way that nature works, I guess. It's a tough world out there. Thanks for sharing your photo and story.

Vicki Lane said...

Great capture! Red tailed hawks are some of my favorites.

As the poet said, 'Nature red in tooth and claw..."

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

wow, i didn't know hawks went after ducks. i have a lot of hawks here and watch them all the time. i have ducks in our pond and haven't seen this. i pray the duck recovers 100%. poor thing. surely there are a lot of mice and voles for the hawks...

Terry said...

I'm really surprised the hawk would go after such a big bird!

rosek1870 said...

We had one kill a HUGE crow and sit on top of our telephone poll to have his lunch. My dogs are only 7 pounds each so we have rules that they are never outside alone and if there is a hawk spotted in the area they stay in. Hawks have to eat and they are beautiful but not my dogs! Have a great day - I so enjoy your blog!

Sandra said...

It's always difficult to witness a fight for life but like Inger said, at least it was fair. Oh, when I watch animal documentaries I always cry "run, run!" even thought I know the lions have to eat, too. Nature can be cruel from our point of view.

Genny said...

Wow, that is an amazing photo! I'm fascinated by hawks. They're so fast and amazingly accurate. Poor duck, but all part of the ecosystem.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

What a shot! We have lots of hawks around here, at times they will come and sit in one of our trees, all the birds vanish from the feeders immediately. But a few times I have evidence that the hawk got lucky, one it was a cardinal, I was mad at that hawk that day.