“Caw, caw… caw, caw, caw,” Anne and I hear during our daily morning walk along Lake Tsala Apopka. There are two crows are calling from a large lower branch of a very old and very large live oak tree draped in Spanish moss. I snap a few photographs even though the crows are in the shadow of the branches knowing that the pictures may not be the greatest. Unless there is direct sunlight on them, they will appear as black silhouettes. The crows seemed alarmed and as Anne and I watched we discovered why. There was an immature red-tailed hawk standing on the large branch with a limp, lifeless squirrel at its feet.
Anne is upset. She likes squirrels. I am excited that I have an opportunity to photograph a hawk with its catch. The hawk tilts its head as the crows jump from branch to branch above it and around it. Then, like a farmer plucking feathers from a dead chicken being prepared for dinner, the red-tail plucks the hairs from the skin of the squirrel. With its sharp beak it tears pieces of the squirrels flesh and devours it. Yes, I admit, it is a disgusting site, but I tell Anne if it was not eating the squirrel, it would be eating a rabbit or even a bird. Such is nature.
NOTE: When I initially posted this, I had incorrectly identified it as a red-shouldered hawk. It is actually a juvenile red-tailed hawk.