I borrowed a pic from the 'net to give you a better idea of what a Red Tailed Hawk looks like.
The photo above is from the scene that happened today as I am about to describe.
For those of you who may not know me through Facebook... today, February 4th, 2009 was a rather sad day for me. The rat who has been living at the back of my yard all winter was killed by what I am 99.9% certain to be a Red Tailed Hawk.
I wrote about this rat in my blog a week or two ago.
I've enjoyed having this critter hanging out at the back, getting his share of seeds and nuts. I've watched him grow. Just yesterday I really took notice to his increase in size as I was telling Angie that I swear there was a Chinchilla at the back of the yard. He was just that big and fuzzy.
Today, I watched him all morning, going in and out of the cinder blocks at the back for his meal. He was always quick to run out, grab some grub and dash back into the blocks. I made it part of my daily routine outside to throw a cup of seed/nuts into one of the block holes to keep him from coming out as much, to keep him safe. I had been noticing a few cats hanging around down there waiting for him along with a few Hawks (Coopers and Sharp Shins) who had been snagging Starlings and Pigeons through January.
Unfortunately, shortly after 12 noon, I was preparing my lunch, decided to have a peek out the window and see what was going on... and then to view a large Hawk standing on the ground with something in his clutches. I got the binoculars out but I already knew who it was.
I snapped a couple pictures from the kitchen window. I then decided to open the back door and hopefully get a better view of the Hawk, and a picture to help identify him. The Hawk got spooked, even though he was at least 100 ft away. He flew up into the trees, zig zagged a bit back and forth and then flew off. I got a good view of him as he flew out of the yard, and as I said, I am quite certain it was a Red Tailed Hawk. I paid close attention to his tail feathers as he sat in the tree at one point.
I am sad for my little rat friend. He was the only rat to be seen so he is special in that sense. So many freak at the thought of a rat running around... but he kept his distance from the house, didn't bother anyone/thing.
I feel some guilt too because I had excitement to see this species of Hawk. I have seen Red Tails as I travel the Hwy 401 but never in my own backyard.
I am not upset with the Hawk; they gotta eat too! There's lots of snow around, so food is scarce for them too.
I went to work and left the rat there on the ground, in hopes the Hawk was going to return for him. Unfortunately that did not happen. Here it is 11 hours later, I am home from work, and the rat is still down there, dead in the snow. There is a small pool of icy blood by his mouth.
I will leave him there over night and hope he will be taken off by some nocturnal creature tonight or another scavenger in the morning hours. I wish for his death not to be wasted.
Lastly, we did give this rat a name... Gunther