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Monday, February 01, 2010

Road Birds

We're driving today and one of the things we do on road trips is count Red-tailed hawks. We counted 16 between southern NH and northern NJ. Redtails hunt voles in the grass that's why they're often by roadsides. The snow cover greatly diminished in the area we went through. So these were most likely wintering Redtails who had only migrated far enough to the snowline and a little below because that is where they could get voles. The advantage of not going farther south is it puts them closer to their northern breeding grounds. Thus they can return quicker in spring to claim their territory before a rival does. The risk is that more severe weather will come where they are. Other Redtails may just migrate farther south. Different birds, different strategies. Each has it's risks.

1 comment:

Quodlibet said...


I love to count the Red-Tails, too! They're nicely visible when the trees are leafless. I had read that the RT hawks also hunt rodents that are attracted to roadside garbage, and that they are very vulnerable to being struck by vehicles as they stoop to their prey. That's another reason not to throw garbage from the car window, even an apple core or other biodegradable - it endangers raptors.