Let me begin by saying that it was really hard not to intervene -- I happen to love squirrels. But I managed to restrain myself. The hunt lasted 20 minutes, with the hawk hopping around from branch to branch trying to grab the squirrel. At one point it did grab it for an instant, pulling a large tuft of hair out of the neck on the opposite side of the squirrel but not drawing any blood -- you can't see it in this shot.
I'm not going to reveal the outcome of the hunt yet as I may post more from this series. But I can tell you that the squirrel didn't panic as the hawk hopped around trying to scare him into making a run for it. Rather, he faced the hawk off and even walked towards it at times. Actually, there were two red tailed hawks! But one hawk was doing all the hunting, the other was in another tree most of the time seemingly indifferent. The hunter may have been the mother of the watching sibling.
The squirrel seemed to know how to use the large tree branches as a defense mechanism by keeping on the opposite or underside of it when the hawk feigned an attack. He avoided the tiny branches where he'd be a sitting duck. You could also here all the squirrels in the area growling to each other as an alert mechanism!
A video made up of photos from this hunt can be viewed here.
Hand-held, Canon 20D, ISO 400, F-11, 1/400 SS, 115mm focal length.
December 14, 2006, Prospect Park Long Meadow, Brooklyn, NY