|photo by Jonathan Schechter|
Consider this an open letter to squirrels, rabbits, rats, mice and voles: BE WARNED! With winter at the door red-tailed hawks (such as this fence-sitter near I-696) have stepped up their keen eye patrols from lookout perches; tree limbs being a favorite. Unlike in summer when these Michigan natives are more likely to be seen lazily soaring on rising thermals over meadows, they have taken advantage of a great food opportunity and have adjusted their behavior accordingly. Call it road patrol, road patrol from stationary hunting platforms. Just like a deer hunter in a tree stand selects an observation location to silently wait for deer, a location that he or she believes will be productive, the red-tailed hawk does the same. Except for them it is a matter of life or death and they want small mammals.
They are skilled hunters. Fresh meat is their thing. They are not after rancid road kills like the turkey vultures that already winged south sniffed out. And why flap around in the cold on endless airborne hunts when they can find barren tree limb perches along I-75 ( a favorite haunt for hunting) and wait for motion in the snow. And if that movement is a vole, rabbit or squirrel near the highway, they take off in flight and quickly sink their powerful talons into dinner. That is nature's way in the cold season. There are no warning tickets issued by these highway patrollers with their distinctive red tail feathers.