February 27, 2009

Natural history, updated

Walking Koko this morning, we came upon this dead hawk under a tree beside a large parking lot. Raptors aren't easily vanquished, as you'll understand from the close-up shots of its claws and beak. What, then, brought it down?

Raptors are, of course, protected (as are virtually all birds other than poultry) under national and international laws. I called Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky here in Louisville and when John called back I asked what kills hawks like this. He said many get hit by cars. Sometimes Cooper's hawks fly into buildings hard enough to damage their eyes; with damaged eyes, they can't hunt and starve to death. Red-tailed hawks in general have it rough. Only one out of four survive their first winter. In a year like this, with extended periods of freezing when rodents are burrowed underground out of sight, the figures go up even higher.

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