Shooting at a South Texas Photography Ranch: Morning, Day 1

Harris's hawk (Carol Fox Henrichs)Caught this fierce look at Santa Clara Ranch. Nope, that’s not a dust spot on the camera sensor; it’s a feather dangling from the bird’s right foot.

The Morning

Our group spent the morning of day one in the raptor blind at Santa Clara Ranch. Jurassic Park fans shouldn’t confuse the raptors from that story with those we were after. Hawks, eagles, vultures, kites, ospreys, falcons, and owls are all among the birds sometimes considered raptors. Most of these are birds of prey, which hunt and feed on other animals. We were not using live animals as bait, therefore, the birds attracted to our food were those that would feed on dead animals.

Leaving the camphouse promptly at 7:00 am, we set out for the blind with chicken quarters and the carcass of a javelina. The wounded javelina had been lurking around a feeder for a couple of days and exhibiting aggressive behavior to anyone coming near. It obviously was not going to leave nor was it going to heal. So, it was put down the night before our visit to the raptor blind. Not to go to waste, the carcass provided a tasty meal for the Northern crested caracara and I’m certain the coyotes finished it off within a day.

While javelina might be an acquired taste, it seemed chicken appealed to a wide variety of birds.  I watched the Northern crested caracaras and Harris’s hawks tear at the chicken quarters tied to the perches. Then, quite unexpectedly, the Green jays joined in on the feast.



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