A Seaside Meal / by Walter Kitundu

One of my favorite places to go when I need a raptor fix is along Great Highway near Ocean Beach. This is as reliable a spot as you'll find in San Francsico for finding a perched bird of prey. If you are patient, or lucky enough to find one actively hunting, you might get a chance to see how it makes a living.

Posture means a lot when it comes to determining raptorial intent. If you see a bird preening, sitting straight up, one leg folded into its feathers, there is a good chance you will be waiting awhile. This Redtail was alert, head up, leaning forward, looking around frequently, and moving its feet. These were all very good signs it was on the hunt.

Sure enough, a few moments later it dove intently toward a patch of ground that was strewn with gopher holes, and secured a meal.

Dramatically, the gopher loses bladder control as the Redtail grips it firmly and departs.

After landing back on its favoured perch, the hawk, understandably wary of nearby Ravens, departs.

With the gopher firmly grasped, the hawk flew to the relative shelter of some nearby pines to dine.