Wild Thing Wednesday features a cinematic star with the red-tailed hawk.  If the sight of this year-round marsh resident is not familiar to many people, it’s voice almost certainly is.  Many movies and television shows use the high pitched, fearsome sounding screech of a red-tailed hawk as a sound effect, often in scenes featuring eagles.  This widespread use causes many people to confuse red tailed hawk calls for bald eagle calls.  Most active during daylight hours, red-tailed hawks are ambush predators that will keep sharp watch over an open area from a high perch or while catching a free ride on a thermal updraft.  Their preferred tactic is to take prey off the ground with a quick surprise strike, and will consume any animal that it can capture.  Red tailed hawks have been considered to be nuisance animals in the past due to occasional predation on domestic poultry but are now protected by law along with Wisconsin’s other birds of prey.  They are named after their easy-to-spot red tails, and can be found in and around Horicon Marsh year round.  Perching hawks will become much easier to spot in the coming weeks, as their shape and color are easier to spot once fall colors are finished and leaves drop to the ground.
Photo Credit: Jack Bartholmai