Learning to Pull and Tear
~ Red-tailed Hawk Feeding Its Young
Artist: Marsha Frontz Cooper
Limited edition, signed & numbered art print
Image Size 30″ W x 23″ H
In the wild, Red-tailed hawks mate for life and both parents share in the tasks of building the nest, feeding, and mentoring the young. They also add branches to the nest after the chicks hatch — perhaps to add a clean layer as the nest becomes fouled. When the chicks are young, the parents bring insects, rodents, snakes, or other small creatures to the nest, tear them into small pieces and place the pieces in the chicks’ mouths. As the chicks grow, the parents offer pieces of food, but don’t let go, thus forcing the chick to use its beak to pull and tear meat. That is what is being depicted in this view of the nest.
As the chicks grow to almost mature size, whole prey is left for the several chicks to pull at if they want to eat. I observed (at a nest of a Red-shouldered Hawk) the parent bring a snake. Two chicks picked up either end of the snake and pulled in a tug-of-war fashion. The parent watched this for a while and, when it became apparent that the chicks couldn’t tear the snake, the adult reached down and snipped the snake in the middle, so each chick had half.
Marsha Frontz Cooper
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Background photo ©Byron Jorjorian