Photos: Red-tailed hawk at Switchyard Park

Arrows point to places in the photographs where the red-tailed hawk perched. It would then lift off, swoop around, then return to alight on one of those three places: (1) lamp post (2) main stage (3) tree branch. The image is from Monroe County’s online property lookup system.

On Friday, a B Square visit to Bloomington’s Switchyard Park to investigate possible evidence of beavers did not confirm that any of the busy, broad-tailed rodents had taken up residence there. But a red-tailed hawk was hunting from a series of alternating perches—on the main stage, a nearby lamp post and a tree near the bridge that leads to Walnut Street.

The hawk’s pattern was to launch itself from the top of the main stage, swoop down to skim the tops of the blades of grass in the turf around the stage, then circle a couple of times, and land on either a nearby lamp post along the path, or on a branch in a tree near the creek bridge that leads to Walnut Street.

It repeated that pattern maybe three times, before its low pass across the turf paid off—it snagged an unfortunate critter, and sat on the ground briefly with its wings spread, mantling its prey, to keep it hidden from potential rivals. (The verb “to mantle” has an old Germanic origin, the same as the modern German noun der Mantel, which is a coat or cloak.)

The hawk then lifted off, circled a couple of times, and headed to the tree branch to devour what it had caught.

Photos: Hawk at Switchyard Park (Nov. 11, 2022)

(Click on any image, to see the full resolution, and from there, arrow or swipe through the rest of the full-resolution images.)

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