Running with the hawks

All last year I ran less than in recent years. Initially it was simply because of all the walking to prepare for our big hike. A very long walk takes a very long time, so it was harder to fit in runs. Plus, I learned the hard way that after a very long walk I’m prone to injure myself if I try to run too soon.

I didn’t want to quit running. I enjoy running, and I want to be able to run, both of which seem like good reasons to run. So what I did was drop most of my short and medium runs in favor of walks, but keep the (ideally) weekly long run.

Over the winter I haven’t been getting my long runs in weekly. I’ve just been running when the weather made it seem like it would be fun, which has worked out to just a couple of times a month.

Yesterday was one of those times.

Fairly often I see wildlife when I’m out running in the woods and prairie near Winfield Village. Unless it’s a turtle, I don’t usually manage to get a picture, but yesterday there was a hawk on a branch directly over the trail, and he sat there long enough that I did mange to get a photo (at the top of the post).

Of course, it’s almost pointless to take a picture of a bird unless you have a very long lens, but here’s the photo anyway—zoomed in enough that you can tell that I actually did see a hawk.

zoomed hawk

Depredated bird

The mortal remains of a bird, spotted on the edge of the Lake Park woods:

Depredated bird

Steven and I speculate that it might have been a Junco, although neither of us is enough of an expert to identify a bird from the feathers, unless they’re particularly distinctive.

I am also not expert enough to recognize what the predator may have been. One always suspects cats in a case like this, but I have seen hawks flying over this very spot. Last spring I even saw a coyote just a few hundred feet from here, and a coyote would certainly be happy to make a meal of a bird if it could catch it.

Many years ago, my dad drew my attention to just such a spot—and then to another, similar spot nearby. My dad suggested that the first spot was the site where the bird was caught and killed, and then the second spot was where it had been consumed by a predator who wanted to eat his meal in a more secure location. I remember my dad identifying that behavior (moving the prey before eating it) as particularly common for some particular predator, but I’ve forgotten what it was.