A Red-Tail could certainly take a Hawk Owl, but only opportunistically
if it somehow got very close to it. A Red-Tail cannot effectively and
generally would not even try to target a smaller and considerably more
maneuverable bird. (Well, a first-year RT might in late summer or fall
when they're still learning their trade, but surely by now the
youngsters have figured out what's worth expending energy on.)
Red-Tails are incredibly versatile, but they're designed to focus on
small mammals, rodents particularly, not other birds. They do well
with, for instance, Coots, which are slow-moving and require a fair
distance to take off from the water. They snag crows occasionally
because crows sometimes get too bold and careless in harassing them too
closely and pay the price for that. I once even saw a Red-Tail
successfully battle a big tough Herring Gull. But as a general matter,
RTs aren't built for preying on other birds.
So unless the hawk owl does something incredibly stupid, it shouldn't be
much at risk from a Red-Tail. A larger owl like a Great Horned Owl,
which could sneak up on it silently, or potentially a Peregrine, which
is capable of chasing it down in the air, would be more likely
predators, I would think.
But a NHO is a very alert, agile bird, so I think it's probably pretty safe.
On 1/19/2014 9:30 AM, cynthia crawford wrote:
> They're back! Yesterday AM we had a flock of 12 Evening Grosbeaks at our
> feeders. (a bit of competition from 8-10 Blue Jays).
> Wayne Cripps and I went back to the Berlin airport to look for the Snowy
> Owl(s). Kathy, Kevin and Justin Hybels joined us. No sign of the Owls or
> any other birds except crows. One person told us Snowys are being chased
> away from the runways (by whom??) and might be in nearby fields. We all
> went on to the Northern Hawk Owl spot (rt. 100/Gregg rd. in Waterbury
> Center Vt.). At first no views. Then Kathy, with her "eagle eye" spotted
> the Owl a good distance away on the other side of the road. As we walked up
> to the road it flew towards us and landed in a Poplar tree just across the
> road. Great high views. There must have be 15-20 people there! Police
> actually showed up. Owl flew off . Red-tailed Hawk showed up, circling,
> and Hawk Owl suddenly appeared streaking fast off across the road (high
> up), and hid somewhere in the further pines, presumably. Now, can a
> Red-tail take a Hawk Owl??? Worried!!
> Photos of Hawk Owl flight, landing, sleepy, and preen here:
> Cynthia Crawford
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