Red-tailed Hawks often capture and feed on snakes (including rattlesnakes).
The Red-tail is one of the largest hawks, usually weighing between 2 and 4 pounds. As with most raptors, the female is nearly a third larger than the male and may have a wingspan of 56 inches. We have at least two pair nesting in SaddleBrooke this year and what a great benefit that is to our residents, their favorite food being small rodents such as rats and mice and the occasional snake.
This brings me to the story of the Hawk and the snake. As mentioned above red-tailed hawks often take rattlesnakes.
You may wonder how they can manage that without being bitten. The hawk approaches the snake using its wings as a shield, the rattler strikes at the feathers (which have no blood vessels to carry the venom), as the rattler is striking at the wings the hawk waits for an opportunity to make a fatal strike of its own to the back of the rattlers head. In addition the hawk can grab and hold the snake with its powerful talons.
However sometimes things just don’t go as planned. I got a report from a man who came across a strange struggle that he managed to capture with his cellphone.
Oops wrong kind of snake!
The problem here is that the gopher snake is a constrictor and unlike the rattlesnake has the ability to wrap around the hawk and the wrestling match is on with the advantage going to the snake. Well of course we normally would let nature take its course but since we really like hawks and snakes they were unwound and went on their way - a little wiser perhaps.
Look for Hawk VS rattlesnake on U-tube