Red-tailed hawk arrives exhausted.

“On 9 October 2003, Virgil Hawkes and Mike Demarchi, of LGL Limited, were conducting a monitoring session as part of our research on the effects of disturbance on marine birds and mammals at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, British Columbia. At 15:20, something scared hundreds of Thayer\’s Gulls from an area just north of the light tower on Great Race Rock. We figured it was likely a Bald Eagle or Peregrine Falcon, based on the gulls\’ behaviour. We then spotted an adult Red-tailed Hawk flying in from the northeast. It landed on a rock right in front of a large male California sealion (photo). The hawk looked very tired and was breathing hard. Perhaps it had attempted to migrate across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but had to turn back (all day, wind direction was unfavourable for such a crossing). We figured it would just rest up then head back to Vancouver Island. At 15:38 we were observing it once again when suddenly, the hawk collapsed and fell backwards into a crevice. A few seconds later a surge of water flushed the bird into view. It was facing breast-down in the water, lifeless. The surge then drew it back into the crevice and out of view. We were interested in retrieving the carcass for further inspection of its body condition (besides it being a beautiful specimen), but in keeping with the conditions of our research permit and because doing so would have caused many sealions to charge off into the water, we refrained. We were just left to contemplate the strange event and consider ourselves fortunate to have witnessed one of nature’s fascinating dramas.–Mike Demarchi– See photo here: