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Observation of a gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) constricting a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)


Wenner, TJ, Observation of a gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) constricting a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Journal of Raptor Research, 46, (3) pp. 323-324. ISSN 0892-1016 (2012) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.

DOI: doi:10.3356/JRR-12-01.1


On 5 September 2008 at 0928 H, I observed an approximately 1.6-m (total length) gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) constricting an adult Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on the side of Forest Road 10 in the Cibola National Forest near Magdalena, New Mexico, U.S.A. (3410.38'N, 10725.05'W), at an elevation of 2265 m asl. After approaching the snake, I noticed that the hawk was still alive but struggling to breathe, as it was immobilized by the snake (Fig. 1). The snake had coils around the throat, chest, and wings of the hawk. The Red-tailed Hawk did not have the gopher snake grasped in its talons or in its bill, and the snake did not have any visible external injuries. When I approached, the snake exhibited typical defensive behavior, including hissing and striking toward me (Sweet 1985, Young et al. 1995). Approximately 12 min (0940 H) after I began my observation, the snake released the hawk, perhaps due to my close proximity. Now released, the hawk quickly stood up, spread its wings, and stood back about 2 m from the snake for approximately 30 sec. It then flew into a dead tree 10 m away, where it rested for 2 min, before it flew off the side of the hill and out of view. The snake moved off the road into a thicket of juniper trees (Juniperus monosperma) as soon as the hawk flew into the dead tree.

Item Details

Item Type:Contribution to Refereed Journal
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Wenner, TJ (Mr Theodore Wenner)
ID Code:83589
Year Published:2012
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2013-03-19
Last Modified:2013-06-11

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