Baby Bunny Gets Nailed

Yesterday evening, I heard a hawk screaming in our front yard. When I went out to see what was going on, I saw it “mantling” over something it had caught.

You can see the fur of the bunny beneath the hawk’s sharp shins.

When I looked closer, I realized it was a baby cottontail rabbit. We have been overrun by cottontails this year. I’ve heard that it is because the most common predator to keep them in check, coyotes, have been hit hard with canine mange.

On the other hand, an early fall cold snap in New Mexico last year decimated the migrating songbird population there and in surrounding states.(https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/southwest-bird-die-caused-long-term-starvation-180976643/) We’ve had far fewer songbirds around this summer as a result.

The combination of fewer songbirds and more cottontails probably prompted this sharpie to try its hand — er — talon — at a baby bunny.

Notice that the bunny fur is almost the same size as the hawk. Remember that birds are very light for their size.

But this baby cottontail rabbit was only a little smaller than the hawk. When a family came walking down the sidewalk, they startled the hawk off its “kill”. To everyone’s astonishment, the baby bunny bounced up and scampered back under our blue spruce tree, although it did have a nasty gash on the side of its head.

The only one disappointed was the hawk.

Sharp-shinned hawk misses flicker for lunch

The gregarious band of little bushtits took off in a burst of feathers and cheeping alarm calls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I looked up just in time to see a Northern flicker shoot out of the top of a tree, with a sharp-shinned hawk in hot pursuit. Luckily for the flicker, the hawk had made its move too soon, and given the flicker a head start the predator couldn’t overcome.

Northern flickers spend all year in the wooded areas of the Front Range of Colorado. They are in the woodpecker family, but they spend as much time on the ground as they do in trees, stabbing their big sharp beaks into the soil in search of insects.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sharp-shinned hawks are woodland predators. They, too, live year-round in Colorado woodlands, and in fact they cover most of North America.  Most of their diet comes from birds that they surprise and chase through the trees — exactly what I saw today, except that the flicker got away.notice the long notched tail and dark cap on head