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UW-Green Bay, Brown , Co, WI
Gary Fewless, Cofrin Arboretum Center for Biodiversity
Olympus CL 2500L digital camera

Red-tail Hawk eating Eastern Cottontail

Midwinter typically brings the most severe tests for animal survival. As food becomes scarce and cold weather imposes excessive energy demands, mortality rates for many species reach their highest levels. Sometimes the need for food overcomes caution and we see animals behaving in unexpected ways. This young Red-tailed Hawk killed and ate an Eastern Cottontail (rabbit) at the edge of a sidewalk adjacent to the UW-Green Bay Laboratory Science Building. The bird showed little concern for students and staff on their way to work and allowed this photo from just a few meters away.

Similar survival pressures exist for smaller birds. When temperatures fall below zero most small songbirds can survive only a matter of hours without food. Their bold pursuit of energy may cause them to act as though they have no fear of people or potential enemies. Black-capped Chickadees and other small birds are even known to land on surprised winter hikers!

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Last updated on April 15, 2014