Friday, December 14, 2007

Raptorama!

I want everyone to know that I seriously disapprove of all this raptor talk!

This morning while driving to work, I saw raptors everywhere! Northern harriers, sharpies, Coops, kestrels, red-tails -- and I think even an osprey. I was driving, and it was pretty low light. We had sleet and ice all day yesterday, but this morning was dry -- cotton-batting sky over white fields and hills.

My question is this, for all you raptor-ologists: Because it rained/sleeted all day yesterday, did the raptors not get to hunt in that? I'm wondering if maybe they didn't get to eat yesterday, so they were all out in force today to get a meal. Which raises another question: How much do raptors eat in a day? Is a bird or maybe two mice enough?

9 comments:

Shelly said...

I'm curious as well!

Mary said...

I'll be check back to see the answers. I'd like to know.

Mary said...

Oh, and the bunny face is sweet - ahhhhhhh.

Susan Gets Native said...

Delia:
The colder it is, the more food a bird needs. They used stored fat in their bodies to keep their body temps up. So they can get by on very little for a day or two. But when their fat stores get used up, they have to eat or they die.

A red-tailed hawk would usually eat 3 mice a day. (That's on a good day)
A Cooper's hawk needs one good sized bird or a few small mice.
A nesting pair of barn owls with six young may consume more than 1000 mice during a three month nesting period. (That's just for fun...they are WAY better at rodent control than traps.)

(Owls will also cache food during times of plenty, in trees, in their nest, etc. In the winter, some owls have been observed "incubating" their cached food, to thaw it out!)
It's all the Circle of Life...when the weather is bad, the mice may not come out, and the raptors don't eat. When the weather's good, everyone comes out to eat and so do the raptors.
And there's always road-kill and dead animals in the woods. All birds are opportunistic, and raptors are no exception.
Don't worry about your birds of prey. They can handle it.

DCup said...

I'm curious, too. It seems like I'm seeing more raptors in our area right now, too. Maybe I'm just noticing them, but I'm not sure....

MathMan got some video of a hawk eating a squirrel the other day . Very cool.

Susan Gets Native said...

Tag, you're it, Delia!

Larry said...

Maybe it depends on how big the meal is. Nice that you saw so many raptors in one day though!

dguzman said...

Susan, thanks for the Chimp info! Glad the raptors are such good hunters.

DCup--cool for Mathman! Horrifying, but cool.

Larry--it was pretty cool. It happens every once in a while, because I have such a long drive through open valley every morning.

pissed off patricia said...

Your theory works for me. Probably their prey stays hidden away on cold icy days so they may not have many choices.