It was a cloudy start to the day, no other birders around. Both babies sitting on branches being pestered by mockingbirds and blue jays. I expected to see nothing special.
How wrong that assumption was. Mama Hawk arrived with a food delivery, rat, snatched by one baby, then dropped. The babies are very good at dropping food. But that baby was quick, swooped down and had it and protected its meal. The second baby really wanted a share. Sharing was not on today's agenda.
The rat was heavy, so it took several attempts for the hawk to get to an eating spot. It stopped in the dirt, in the grass, near the playground fence, and finally up onto the fence. Hard work. Heavy rat.
Oh jeez, what a place to eat rat, right in front of all the toddlers and their nannies. Toddlers have a short attention span, one look then back to the sand box. The nannies took pictures with their cell phones. The park employees (male) loved this. The female workers' response was "Ugh!"
The hawk had difficulty holding onto the rat. The fence is metal and the rat kept slipping. Finally, it got a grip using some of the ivy as a support. Baby ate the whole rat. Sibling sat on fence and waited, but didn't get a nibble. Rat got eaten. Other baby yelled. And when the rat had been demolished the two siblings sat together, -no fussing, no fighting, a bit of preening, and then they flew off. A short time later the hawks were back on the ground behind the fence looking for food... tiptoe through the tulips?.........
I have never before been privileged to see such a sequence. When the baby got that rat its demeanor was total adult raptor. When it tore into the meal it was adult. When it sat with its sibling they were both babies. When they flew through the playground as low as a child's head it was pure juvenile behavior. It was a fascinating awesome experience. Pretty soon they will catch their own food, but as of this morning they're still not good at carrying weight while flying and they're real klutzes at eating on anything other than a flat surface.
I've edited tightly. I shot over 150 pictures just of the "rat-demolition". Click on any image to view it enlarged.