The view from Hilton Head

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I witnessed a remarkable event. A Cooper’s Hawk landed in a wooded area outside our unit. It sat in a tree a hundred feet away for a while, watching a young squirrel at play on the ground below our balcony.

After a time the hawk flew closer. Now it perched near the top of one tree while the squirrel, suddenly aware of its danger, froze against the trunk of the tree beside it. We could see the squirrel but the hawk couldn’t.

I stood for a long time watching the hawk turning its head this way and that, trying to locate its prey and the squirrel, hugging the trunk on the far side, not moving a hair.

Eventually the hawk flew to a high limb to get a better view. It knew where the squirrel must be but still couldn’t find it.

The squirrel began to move slowly down the trunk. It reached the ground, edged over to the next trunk, and climbed up that trunk until it was nearly at the same level as the predator. It crept around the side until it was clearly in view of the hawk. Long minutes passed as the hunter and the hunted stared at each other.

The hawk rocked on its limb, weighing its chances. The squirrel flashed its tail as though daring, taunting its adversary.

I stood spellbound while the drama played out. The hawk and squirrel continued their staring match, the bird tensing its muscles, the squirrel cocking its head. It seemed inevitable that the hawk would spread its wings, attack the squirrel, and carry it off to a comfortable place to dine.

The hawk did spread its wings. It flew. The squirrel sat among a cluster of leaves and watched the hungry bird leave the arena. The danger passed. The squirrel sat quietly for another few minutes, then resumed its activity as though nothing had happened.

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9 comments on “The view from Hilton Head

  1. David, I loved reading your neighborhood Nature stories they remind me of the photos I have taken. One was of an owl who only want water from the bird bath and a chicken hawk that wanted its dead breakfast I was standing near. Each one provided several different positions to photograph.

    • Believe it or not, Mary Nida, I didn’t take a single picture. Stood there in awe with my phone three feet behind me on a table and never took my eyes off the action until the bird flew and the moment had passed.

  2. Wow, mother nature is beautiful, cruel, amazing to witness. The food chain in action, another day another outcome.
    Yesterday I witnessed mother nature in another way,simply because man was involved, a beautiful huge bald eagle hit by a car, not available to fly away caring drivers stopped and protected the bird til conservation got on scene, haven’t heard yet how he’s doing but he seemed alert.

  3. That must have been spectacular to witness–thanks for sharing the thrill. About a year ago we saw a similar cooper hawk/squirrel adventure. That squirrel was less fortunate. We heard its cry and watched spellbound as the hawk disappeared between the trees, squirrel in its talons.

  4. I loved reading your description, David. I’ve seen a hawk grab a bird in my old backyard (off a park) & ran out to try to scare the hawk into dropping it. Silly me; he just flew away with it! Thanks for telling about this!

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