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1 + 1 = 1 July 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Food & Drink, Nature.

When one hawk . . .

2010-08-19 13-18-01_0001

Invites one snake . . .

To breakfast.

As breakfast.

Tree-Frog-PerchedWe note that, math be damned, 1 + 1 =1 :

1 + 1 = 1 less snake

1 + 1 = 1 happy hawk

The other morning, we looked out on the back deck and noticed a hawk having breakfast.

Grasped in its talons was a poor wee snake.

When the busboy cleared the table, the sole trace of the snake was its spinal cord . . . draped over the deck piling like a discarded napkin.

Aah . . . that’s the way of the world.

Related posts:  It’s a Snake Eat Frog World * Heron Does Not Live By Fish Alone



1. bwcarey - July 15, 2014

i i i became num num num….anything for a full tummy

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

The hawk took his time and picked the bones clean. 😎

bwcarey - July 17, 2014

as nature intended and devised, have a great day

nrhatch - July 17, 2014


2. suzicate - July 15, 2014

That’s breakfast on the run, oh I mean breakfast on the fly!

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

Yes! Breakfast on the fly! I’m glad I didn’t see the hawk catch the snake and tussle with it. That said, I love watching osprey and bald eagles catching fish in one fell and fatal swoop.

3. Piglet in Portugal - July 15, 2014

Well spotted, Nancy!

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

I’ve seen lots of interesting sights on and from our back deck ~ a snake eating a frog, a heron eating a rat, an otter eating a fish, and now a hawk eating a snake. Wild America!

4. Silver in the Barn - July 15, 2014

Ah yes, nature. Boy, has this city girl learned the unsanitized truth about the dog-eat-dog (or hawk-eat-snake) nature of country living. I’ve learned not to wake up all eager to examine what is happening in my birds’ nests, for example. Sometimes you just don’t want to know!!

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

Some things are harder to watch than others. For example, I do NOT want to see a snapping turtle catching a duckling for dinner.

Silver in the Barn - July 15, 2014

EXACTLY!! Here’s a happy ending story: there were fledglings in a little nest on the top of the porch pillars. One night, old Westie boy needed to go out and when my husband flipped on the porch light, there was a big black snake winding his way up the pillar headed straight for the babies. He was dispatched immediately. And the birds fledged the very next day!! It’s tough out there.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

Yay! Glad the babies lived to fledge.

Snakes are GREAT climbers. I ran over a snake with my bike at dusk one night ~ I didn’t see it until it was too late to swerve. It scooted out of the road and up a palm tree faster than a monkey!

When we lived in MD, we had a raised ranch with wrap around deck. One day, while walking Jazz (our cat) under the deck, I sensed some thing unusual in the bird’s nest over my head. I looked up and saw a snake coiled up, belly full of eggs.

We got a ladder and evicted him from his perch because the idea of a snake dropping down on my unsuspecting head, neck, or shoulders gives me the Heebie Jeebies!

5. NancyTex - July 15, 2014

No ethical dilemma for the hawk. It sees the snake as food, nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t concern itself with how humane the manner of death was. It finds food, captures food and eats food. And then it doesn’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

If I needed to kill animals for food, I don’t know that I’d struggle with the moral implications. Fortunately, I have plenty of fruits, seeds, beans, grains, and veggies at my disposal so I can skip the meat. 😎

6. bearyweather - July 15, 2014

Send your hawk north for lunch (and dinner) many unwanted snakes have slithered into my wood pile this summer.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

When Col’s snake population boomed in South Africa, he welcomed a troop of mongoose into his yard. The mongoose cleared out the snakes and then moved on.

7. William D'Andrea - July 15, 2014

Have you ever seen the emblem on the flag of Mexico? It shows an Eagle on a cactus, eating a serpent.
This is based on an ancient legend of the Aztecs. They were a poor, nomadic tribe, who received a prophesy stating that they should settle in the spot, where they’d observe an eagle on a cactus, eating a serpent. When, after many years wandering, they observed the prophesied event, the eagle was seated on a cactus, eating a serpent, in the middle of gigantic, shallow Lake Texcoco; and that was where they actually did build their settlement.
Over many decades they filled in the lake, constructing buildings on floating gardens, which eventually developed into their City of Tenochtitlan. This was where Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortez met Aztec Emperor Moctezuma; and then conquered all of Mexico.
The ancient City of Tenochtitlan, which had been founded in the middle of a gigantic lake, is now Mexico City, which stands in one of the driest places in the world; but the ancient ruins are found all over the downtown area.
The place where that eagle ate the serpent, and Cortez defeated the Aztecs, is now a place where you can get muy mucho Moctezuma’s Revenge!

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

You might enjoy this, William ~ how the rattlesnake (“don’t tread on me”) became a symbol of American independence:


8. Jill Weatherholt - July 15, 2014

A hawk has to eat too, I suppose. Recently we saw a large black snake ravage a bird’s nest containing newborns. I guess that’s just nature.
Great picture of the hawk, Nancy!

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

I have a harder time with snakes eating birds than I do with birds eating snakes. I guess I’m prejudiced against reptiles. 😎

I took that hawk shot a year or so ago. We didn’t want to disturb the hawk yesterday morning by trying to catch him on Candid Camera. I do wish I’d thought to snap a shot of the snake’s discarded spine.

9. Behind the Story - July 15, 2014

That’s a wicked looking hawk. I wouldn’t want to meet up with him if I were a little snake. I assume the snake doesn’t have very good eyesight.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

The hawk that stopped by for breakfast on Sunday seemed a bit less austere than the one in the photo ~ it may have been a juvenile since it had tufts of down peeking out in a few places.

I now that snakes capture prey with “heat seeking” sensors and that they are sensitive to vibrations. Not sure if they have good eyesight . . . but suspect that most birds of prey see better than snakes.

10. In the Stillness of Willow Hill - July 15, 2014

I’d definitely rather meet up with a snake-eating hawk than a hawk-eating snake! We had our own snake siting yesterday….a rattler gliding out of the bushes right before our eyes…and feet…on a foothill hike. Talk about moving fast (us)!!!

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

Me too! There are HUGE pythons in the keys that eat alligators and birds and raccoons and possum and other small mammals. I do NOT want to meet up with one. Or a rattler!

Glad you got away, intact. I’d need a stiff drink after bellying up to a belly crawler like that. 😎

11. ericjbaker - July 15, 2014

Rounded a bend during a hike on Saturday and saw the biggest non-captive snake I’ve ever seen in NJ. About 4 feet long. I almost stepped on him. It would take a mighty hawk to get that critter off the ground.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

I am glad you did not step on him. That tends to annoy them and they become retaliatory. I do NOT like to be surprised by snakes. Especially when I’m wearing shorts and flip flops.

I’m pretty sure that the hawk here was eating a small garter snake, but I’m sure the black racers are also fair game ~ they are often 3-4 feet long, but very slim.

ericjbaker - July 15, 2014

Trying to identify it after the fact, always questionable when having to rely on memory only, it looked like the photos of a Queen Snake, which can be 36″ according to the PDF I downloaded. It seemed a bit bigger, but nothing else on the ‘Snakes of NJ” chart came close. I suppose someone could have released a pet, though this guy was pretty deep in the woods.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

I just checked out Queen Snakes and thought, “that looks like a garter snake.” I read a bit and the article confirmed that Queen Snakes do look like garter snakes.

Like “the one that got away” on a fishing trip, snakes may seem bigger than they are because we aren’t fans of legless lizards.

12. Barbara - July 15, 2014

I hate seeing things like this, but this is nature in the raw so so speak. At least you were spared seeing the bird tussle with it.
Here in Oz we have the brown snake which is deadly to man and beast. I was amazed one day to see a kookaburra attacking one on the road just outside our house. He swooped down time after time, attacking the snake and when satisfied he had killed it, he flew off with it hanging out of his beak. He was one brave little fella to tackle a poisonous snake, but I guess if you are hungry, you’ll risk anything.

nrhatch - July 15, 2014

That is one brave kookaburra, Barb. I know I wouldn’t want to tussle with a venomous snake . . . or any snake for that matter.

13. When in New Places - July 15, 2014

Reading this made me love the hawk that much more and feel a tinge of happiness that it’s helping reduce the snake population.
I know everything keeps everything else balanced, but why oh why can’t snakes look like bunnies?!?!
~ Andrea ❤

nrhatch - July 16, 2014

Judging from the comments, not many people felt bad about the snake’s demise. And I think you’ve hit on the reason . . . snakes don’t look like bunnies!

14. jannatwrites - July 16, 2014

Ew, nature can be brutal! I can’t say that I’d shed tears over one less snake, but I’d appreciate the hawk cleaning up his mess 🙂

nrhatch - July 16, 2014

The hawk left the piling clean and tidy . . . except for the discarded spine.

15. Eric Tonningsen - July 16, 2014

This is why it’s referred to as a cycle. And while I care for all of nature’s creatures, I do have two phobias, one being snakes. Yes, I used to catch garter snakes as a kid but today, any snake gives me the willies — flip flops or not. Bravo, Hawk.

nrhatch - July 16, 2014

As Andrea noted, we would be more enamored of snakes if they looked like bunnies. 😎

16. Pix Under the Oaks - July 16, 2014

Ewwwwwww! The spinal cord. I have seen it all I think out here in the country and it isn’t always pretty. Hate to find snakes raiding nests with baby birds or blue jays, squirrels, and hawks taking baby birds. Especially after we have watched parent birds struggle to feed the babies. We have a fair amount of snakes on The Tiny Ten and give them a wide berth. We had a gorgeous hawk fly into the kitchen window a couple of weeks ago, CH went out to check it.. the hawk didn’t make it. I know he was probably in hot pursuit of another bird. Oddest thing I have seen was shortly after we moved here I found two small mice right next to each other hanging by their tails on the top of our barbed wire fence that runs behind the house. I still wonder about those two mice.

nrhatch - July 16, 2014

Mickey Mouse: “Want to hang out?”
Minnie Mouse: “Sure, Mickey ~ I know just the place!”

I’m with you on snakes, jays, and hawks raiding nests to dine on baby birds. I don’t want to know about it. I also get sad when birds break their necks flying into a window.

Pix Under the Oaks - July 16, 2014

Mickey and Minnie were speechless hanging on the fence.. they were DEAD 🙂

nrhatch - July 16, 2014

Oh . . . that’s another kettle of fish entirely.

17. diannegray - July 16, 2014

What a magnificent bird! What goes around comes around (or something like that). The snakes eat the birds eggs and the ones they miss grow up to eat them! 😀

nrhatch - July 16, 2014

So the snakes eat the eggs as a “peremptory strike.” One of our favorite things about living here is all the wonderful wildlife ~ always something to see right in our own backyard.

18. Val Boyko - July 17, 2014

Nature is amazing! We drove up one of the back roads yesterday in the Chianti Hills and a golden eagle rose up in front of the car with a snake in its claws.
Talk about an adrenalin rush!!
No time to take a photo .. but I’m pretty sure the image will be stamped in our memories 🙂
Val x

nrhatch - July 17, 2014

What a great sight to see, Val. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t see the hawk wrestling with the snake . . . but I love watching osprey swoop down, grab a fish, and fly away.

Hope you’re enjoying your time in the Chianti Hills!

19. Three Well Beings - July 18, 2014

Very cool to observe! I would both cringe and clap my hands! I think when nature and its ways are observed I just marvel all the more. poor snake…but I should probably feel just as sorry for whatever he at for breakfast the day before! Great photo of the hawk!

nrhatch - July 18, 2014

I didn’t have to decide who to cheer for since the snake had already met its maker by the time we appeared on the scene. I’m glad about that ~ when it’s already a “done deal” it’s easier for me to watch. Seeing the “thrill of the chase” is harder.

20. William D'Andrea - July 19, 2014

Last night on the News they reported that it was the 45th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon, when the Astronaut said “We have Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
That sounds a lot better than if he’d said “…The Serpent has landed.”

nrhatch - July 19, 2014

Good thing we went with the stars and stripes . . . instead of “don’t tread on me.”

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