Many angry farmers may be familiar with calling this bird the chicken hawk, because it was thought they would swoop down to steal the chickens. However, an interpretive naturalist from Patoka Lake explained about Indiana’s most populous bird of prey as it clung onto her arm. These birds usually only choose dinner that is half of their weight and under, this usually ends up being mice, small rabbits and snakes. Although this particular red tailed hawk only weighs about three pounds, it can apply between 200-300 pounds of pressure by gripping prey with its talons. Although thier threatening appearance and striking eyes may make them seem like unloving birds, red tailed hawks, unlike many birds, are loyal to their mates as they often hunt together to provide for the family.
This particular red tailed hawk was taken in after it was hit by a car in Anderson, IN and injured its wing. This four year old female gets fed about four to five frozen mice a day (which come from a local distributer that supplies feed to places like zoos and pet stores). As the naturalist talked the hawk’s mouth remained open and she stretched her beak like she was gasping for air or panting. Even though it was hot out, she was not panting, but actually regurgitating the unprocessed bones of the last mice she ate. Although it never happened during the presentation, when the “left-overs” work their way up her throat she spits up a pellet of bones and fur.
If you saw this show last year you may remember the bald eagle, unfortunately it passed away due to a tumor. The Patoka Lake center hopes to get another one.