Saturday, January 13, 2007

Predator Update

I have written many times about the two predators in the Colvin Run Habitat – the red-tailed fox and the Cooper’s hawk. Both have been observed several times during the last week in the Habitat (these two photos were taken this week). In fact, Dot observed the fox in the classic ‘curled-up, face in tail’ winter position (sorry, no photos of that yet). So why do these predators visit the Habitat so frequently?
The short answer is…free food. I have talked in length about the fox chasing the squirrels. And, we have photos and many other observations of the fox actually catching squirrels. Additionally, although rabbits were plentiful two summers ago, none have been observed in at least 18 months. Also, the chipmunks seem to come in waves – from being extremely numerous to literally none observed for a few months. Also, this is the first year in many that we have not had a mouse come from the field into the garage or even the house.
While we have had hawks in the Habitat in the past, the sightings have been few. I suspect that this year’s numerous Cooper’s hawk sightings are due to increased attention Habitat observation and the abundance of smaller birds at the feeder.

This morning at 8 AM, I replenished the feeders and within ten minutes, I had at least three dozen birds and four squirrels feeding and drinking. Maybe I should just get a neon sign that says, “Colvin Run Dinner.

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