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An Unusual Encounter

Posted on 8 September 2008 by Dawn Keller

One of our volunteers called me stating that Old Red, one of the education Red-tailed Hawks at our Itasca facility, had a visitor. Interested, I followed her to Old Red's mew (cage).

I rounded the corner and didn't see anyone standing there then, looking down, I saw Red standing low in her cage on a piece of conduit running approximately six inches above the ground. She stared intently. I followed her gaze and, just outside of her mew, saw a garter snake coiled up with head erect, staring straight back at Red.

The garter snake and Red continued to lock gazes. The snake was on high alert - no doubt unaware that Red couldn't reach through the cage's predator-proofing. The snake hissed and puffed out its body to look as large as possible. Red didn't flinch.
I watched the exchange for some time and wished I had a camera with me.

A couple of days later I was returning from an educational program with Red and found the snake slithering outside of her cage. Red and I paused for a moment, this time observing from the same side of the cage. I was grateful that Mary Anderson, a photographer and regular at the Nature Center, was there to document the second encounter.

Thanks, Mary, for use of your photos!

Dawn

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