Friday, April 16, 2010

Do Red-shouldered Hawks Feed on Beavers?

This is a late post but recently work colleague, Shawn Good, shared with me images of a Red-shouldered Hawk he took with a digital trail camera on his property in Pittsford, Vermont.  He used a  beaver carcass for bait expecting to document the usual wildlife that might be expected in the local area: bear (bottom photo), coyote, bobcat, fisher and the like.  But he certainly did not anticipate a hawk.  The middle photo has been cropped to provide a little closer view of the bird. 

I did not think Red-shouldered Hawks typically fed on carrion, so I looked into several information sources on the web including the Peregrine Fund and saw that small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, birds and insects are the staple of the hawk's diet with no mention of carrion.  Considering the date the photos were taken, March 26, I will speculate that the beaver carcass was a welcome meal after a migration flight and that the usual food items might be in short supply or at least more challenging to capture in early spring.   So I guess the answer to the question is yes under certain circumstances.

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