Swainsons hawk swooping down on prey.

The great paradox of restoration ecology, and the work that The Conservancy does, is that the refuges and sanctuaries we design, build and manage are created for wildlife. The theory is that as wildlife is ever more displaced by urbanization, they need a safe place to retreat to. And yet, when our work is evaluated, one key success criteria is whether or not the preserve that has been set aside and enhanced or restored, is populated with the species in need. In other words, if it is successful its biological richness would be apparent.

And so it goes with The Conservancy’s preserves. The preserves are, in fact, biologically rich: that has been proven. But not all species find refuge and sanctuary on them. In fact, many meet their end on them. They become prey to the predator. And the predator show in these photographs indicate that the raptors do most of the dirty work. We could have featured a Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigs) taking prey (see prior Blog post titled “Big Gulp”) and many others. But here we feature raptors. The reason: they are the most predatory on the preserves, at least from what we see on a regular basis.

Red shoulder hawk with prey.Raptor with prey.

All the photos attached in this post were taken recently on The Conservancy’s preserves. There is ambivalence about this. We don’t like to think of The Conservancy’s preserves as being host to a beautiful animal meeting an untimely end. But, as one young U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist strongly advised me early in my career – if predators aren’t finding sustenance on Conservancy mitigation lands, then we have failed. She was (and is) right, of course.