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Marion Larson

Marion Larson

Outreach Coordinator, MassWildlife

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Redtail picking at vole

Recently, I was hiking with family around a cranberry bog in Barnstable when we spotted a red-tailed hawk. The bird dove into the plant-filled bog, landed, and then “mantled” over the prey it had successfully caught.  Mantling is when the bird spreads its wings out to protect its prey from other predators—(see the outstretched wings image). The bird then flew to a nearby tree and began to pick at it — only ten yards away from us! 

We were close enough to identify the prey as a vole, take photos, and ensure we didn’t stand in the “drop zone” as pieces of vole were falling away while the bird tore at the carcass.  Within a couple of minutes, the bird swallowed the vole in one gulp and then scanned the area for more prey. We enjoyed every minute of this amazing experience and were so grateful to have been in the right place at the right time!  If you have had a similar “Wild Kingdom or Animal Planet Hunt experience” like this recently, please share it!

Mantling red tail in bog

 

Walking the cranberry bog

 

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