The Food Chain

Today, as I walked across the Vanderbilt campus on my daily mail run, out of my peripheral vision I saw a large wing flash. I wondered what bird I was seeing - I was pretty sure it was larger than a pigeon, and my instinct was that it was a bird of prey.

A little further along the path, and I saw a hawk on the ground near a tree, and when I noticed flashes of movement in the tree on the lowest limb, I noticed at least three more hawks excitedly looking down.

I looked around for their prey. I also saw another man on the path further along who had noticed the weird site, and we started to softly talk to each other. There was a squirrel on the side of the tree, only a few feet away from the hawk in the grass. His tail was like a rat's - all the fluffy hair had been taken off somehow. But he didn't look injured at all; I didn't see any blood.

So I cautiously walked a little closer - not wanting to scare the squirrel if it was hurt. The hawks flew off as I approached. There on the ground was a dead chipmunk. It had lacerations, but it wasn't clear if a hawk had attacked and killed it while it was alive, or if it had taken advantage of one that was already injured.

My coming closer allowed the squirrel to move away from immediate danger, at least.

The guy on the path and I were amazed to see that many hawks congregated together. It is a different kind of hawk than what I'm used to from my days in Texas. I looked online and I think they were either Cooper's Hawks or Sharp Shinned Hawks. The site did say that these hawks target other birds at bird feeder's - so that was something to note.

As I headed off for the mail, I told the other guy, "Well, we had our American Wildlife moment of the day!"


Anonymous July 9, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

Reminds me of our butterfly farm for Geneva's science experiment. After days and days of watching our four caterpillars slowly develop into butterflies, it was time to let them fly free. The first butterfly took off right away into the hills to our south. So did the second, and soon the third. But the fourth seemed a little unsure about leaving. Finally it reluctantly flew north, in the opposite direction of its brothers, and right into an oncoming bird which nonchalantly glided down to gobble it up for its mid-flight breakfast! All those days of growing and developing, just to be a split-second snack for some random bird!! We all stood there in shock, but it made a great opener into discussing the food chain :)

Tina B July 9, 2009 at 1:10 PM  

OMG! That is hilarious and sad at once! I can just imagine the shock on ya'll's faces!

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