Proceed at Your Peril

**BE WARNED… this one is going to get gruesome y’all.

Raptors look as raptors do because raptors do what raptors do. They kill things daily. They look fierce because that brow ridge protects their precious eyes during all manner of prey related entanglements. That down-curved bill tapering to a point makes short work of anything that resembles flesh.

“they look so regal…” “they look so dignified and proud…” “they look so cool”

Yup, they look that way because they are predators. IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH TURN BACK NOW. SERIOUSLY. Two pictures down is a mouse getting its head and face removed. No joke.

A Red-tailed Hawk doesn’t have the slightest thing resembling mercy. It has a thing called hunger, and it must be satisfied. Cue head and face removal photo…

There is no caption that can fix this.

This girl Cooper’s Hawk is too young to hunt on her own so she gets meals delivered by her parents.

The adults often prepared the food by removing the feathers and head (a commission for the hunt). Any guesses on dinner? House Sparrow? House Finch?

Red-shouldered Hawk looking regal? Noble? Dignified?

Here it is eating a freshly caught pigeon. It worked on it for a long… long time.

This is all that remained.

All that pigeon now resides in the hawk’s crop and it is not a flattering look. I honestly wondered if it could even fly.

The answer was no… it could only waddle up into a tree and sit for hours. How’s that for dignified?

I’ll leave you with another fairly intense image of another bird of prey – the fiendishly cold-blooded Great Blue Heron.

17 responses

  1. Great shots! Lots of nature dramas going on around us. I didn’t know that Great Blue Herons ate rodents!

    April 28, 2012 at 5:39 am

  2. absolutely stunning shots… you’re so fortunate to have caught these glimpses, esp in the wild instances. our herons & egrets have completely decimated the muscovy duckling populations this year — and kittens are even game.

    April 28, 2012 at 6:56 am

  3. These pictures took my breath away, especially the first and the tenth ones! I always say nature is as brutal as she is beautiful – the circle of life. Amazing shots!

    April 28, 2012 at 7:43 am

  4. Wow omg

    April 28, 2012 at 7:56 am

  5. Nancy Morgan

    Very nice series of photos!

    April 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  6. Nice shots! One of my favorite raptor memories is eating outside at a restaurant with my parents. From the trees above, feathers started to trickle down. We looked up and enjoyed knowing a Cooper’s Hawk was also having a meal, a House Sparrow. More immediately, I’ve been seeing the handiwork of a Great-horned Owl, as practiced on Laughing Gulls, an American Oystercatcher, and Royal Terns. Not much is left when the owl is done, often just the wings and some feathers.

    April 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

  7. Kuson

    I love the first photo on the top!! You always get great photo with us.

    April 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm

  8. Awesome photographs! Great Blue Herons are vicious. I’ve watched them, and Great Egrets, eat ground squirrels and voles; the picture is bad enough, but when you see it in real life you discover just how long it takes a bird like that to kill that sort of prey. They are not efficient executioners. You have to admire the raptors in that respect: that mouse did not suffer long!

    April 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm

  9. mymim3

    Still dignified,regal and proud … and doing what hawks do. It baffles me that we are “grossed out” or disturbed by nature acting like nature; we who buy our meat all packaged and divorced from the cruel kill and slaughter. No wonder I’m a vegetarian. Leave the meat kill to the hawks, at least they do it naturally. Thanks for the stunning photos of nature at its utmost.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:24 am

  10. Chuck Carlson

    Just a question: What species of vole(?) was that taken by the Great Blue Heron? Looks quite large.


    April 30, 2012 at 8:33 am

    • It was a Pocket Gopher. They can get quite large.

      April 30, 2012 at 8:51 am

  11. Before I was able to watch Barn Owls live on camera doing their thing, I would have been greatly saddened by the “hunt”. But then I realized, everybody’s gotta eat!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    • Siobhan Ruck

      Can I just say that you have a great user name?

      April 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm

  12. Breathtaking series of shots – particularly the red-tail series. Thanks for sharing this window into the daily drama of nature!

    May 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

  13. Very cool. I especially love that first shot.

    May 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  14. Truly great shots! I love birds of prey, particularly hawks – as you say, very regal birds and your shots of them hunting are really impressive

    May 7, 2012 at 7:06 am

  15. Thanks for this! Decades ago (before I’d ever considered raptors) I saw a RS in a marsh that tried to fly and couldn’t; since I was on my bike I couldn’t even think about taking her to Wildcare… finallyit occurs to me that she was just too full.

    January 20, 2014 at 9:08 am

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