May I Have A Different table?

The continuing saga of my attempt to capture images of the Red-tailed Hawks and the American Crows via our Butterball Turkey lure are most recently chronicled HERE.

After a day of rain and temperatures in the 50’s yesterday, today it has plummeted to 20 F with a wind chill factor of “Feels Like 8 Degrees F.” If the overcast skies didn’t keep me from attempting to film (with my SLR camera) activity at the Butterball Diner, the temperatures did. I have had have chosen to rely on the new Trail Cam recordings for today’s update. Again. Sad face. I can’t wait to get some real photographs of these incredible birds. However, the new trail cam did capture activity! Happy face! That is a great consolation.

As we work out the various settings on the new Trail Cam, there are important features to note. If the camera’s trigger is set too light, a snowflake that moves across the lens can trigger sixty seconds of nothingness. Again and again. However, if it’s set too heavy, once the bird arrives its continued action isn’t sufficient to re-initiate a recording as it remains on site – possibly presenting some interesting behavior. That’s what happened this morning.

During a visit by a Red-tailed Hawk earlier today, he apparently wanted to move the turkey carcass to another location where, I can only speculate, he felt safer to eat his meal. I get that. When we dine out, my husband always prefers a table on the wall, rather than the center of the room! Unfortunately, the trail cam settings didn’t capture the hawk-drags-carcass action. Fortunately, we set it to take one still shot before it began recording video. With that information, I could piece together what transpired during this majestic bird’s Diner visit! On a curious note, there’s a brand new, fresh turkey positioned quite near the large branch (where he dragged the old carcass), but we didn’t record the bird examining that meal option. Perhaps old habits die hard. Perhaps he enjoys his meat sufficiently “aged” like a great steak. Perhaps, we just missed recording his trip to the buffet table!

Below is a video I prepared. It combines the single still shots that are captured when the camera is first triggered and the 60 second video clips that are recorded immediately after the still shots.

Here’s a rundown of the video above. Red-tailed Hawk 12/24/20 between 10:31 AM and 11:14 AM.

10:31 39sec Still Shot: Red-tailed Hawk landing at the old turkey carcass (there’s a new turkey close to the branch.)

10:31 42sec Video clip: Hawk approaches carcass. Note his extreme caution throughout the 60 seconds of recording time.

11:02 29sec Still Shot: This is 30 minutes after the hawk arrives. The photo shows that he has pulled the carcass about six feet closer to the large branch we put out at the lure station. The camera did not trigger on any of his movement between these times.

11:02 32sec Video clip: Hawk picking at carcass, perhaps a bit less cautious. Could that be because he feels safer with the cover of the branch?

11:12 56sec Still Shot: Ten minutes have elapsed since the end of the previous video clip. The hawk has flown up to a branch, which I assume is the action which triggered the camera.

11:12 59sec Video clip: Hawk on the branch, including a hop up to a higher branch.

11:30 39sec Still Shot: The hawk is flying off to the left (just caught at the edge of the frame.) This is 17 minutes after the hawk’s ascent to the branch triggered the camera previously.

It’s too bad that we didn’t capture video of the hawk dragging the carcass. I think that would have been very interesting to observe. In response, we (that usually means Robert) plan to move the camera closer to the lure zone, which will potentially trigger the camera with the birds make less significant moves than flight/ flapping wings. We are also going to change the trigger setting on the camera. In the past, I have had to review a few dozen files just to find one video clip that contained a bird’s activity. In that case, the camera was triggering on the movement of a blowing blade of grass or perhaps even an insect flying past the lens. Since it is winter, and the turkey lure is in a field that was cut fairly short at the end of summer, that issue may be lessened.

It’s a process! In reviewing the previous trail cam files, the hawk(s) have visited around 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM. Because the previous camera was failing, we don’t have sufficient data to know that’s a pattern. But, perhaps while the winds howl and the temperatures remain too low for me to engage in first-hand observations, we can collect enough information that will allow me to target my time in the winter wonderland to achieve my ultimate mission!

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