[CT Birds] Stratford yard/woods

Chasbarnard at aol.com Chasbarnard at aol.com
Wed Mar 24 18:31:58 EDT 2010

" The RTHA pair that nest near me were out yesterday before the clouds  
rolled in, circling together.  The male (smaller one, right?) had a prey  item 
(looked like a vole, or vole size) and gained altitude, then dropped  it.  
As the prey was free-falling, the female (larger) went into a dive  after it, 
threw up her wings as if it was a parachute to slow down as she  
approached, and then snatched it out of the air with her talons."
That was an interesting observation. I have seen paired Northern  Harriers 
perform aerial transfers often, but have never witnessed it in  Red-tails.  
I looked up Red-tail courtship behavior at Birds of North  America Online 
and aerial transfers between paired Red-tails is mentioned, but  it is 
apparently not a common-place thing, since there is mention of only 1  such 
observation. Either that, or it is a regular part of courtship or  bond 
reinforcement among Red-tails, but just not noticed by most  observers. I doubt that 
though, since it would be hard to miss seeing such  an event with a bird as 
widespread and as easily observed as an airborne  Red-tailed Hawk. 
When harriers do an aerial transfer, it is different than the one which you 
 describe between the Red-tail pair.  The  female harrier flies up from 
below the male and then rolls  over , throwing her talons out and up to catch 
the falling prey. 

Charlie Barnard

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