Food Fight! White Ibis vs. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

White Ibis

A fascinating food fight took place along the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp near Naples, Florida. A variety of wading birds including White Ibis and a few herons were busy feeding. A White Ibis pulled up a Black Racer* from the muddy bottom after punching his long curved bill multiple times into the water. He grabbed it by the head and beat it up and down, even giving it a good shake!

White Ibis

Suddenly, I noticed a Red-shouldered Hawk sitting about 10 feet away on the knob of one of the Cypress knees, watching the Ibis with the snake. When the snake seemed completely subdued, the Red-shouldered hawk made its move, flying over to the Ibis and stealing his lunch!

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

He went back to his perch for a moment, then took off to higher ground.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Here he sits, in a tree just above the boardwalk with his stolen prize. Poor White Ibis! That would have kept him full for awhile, but he lost the Food Fight this time!

*Note: several readers have commented that what I assumed was a Black Racer, is not a snake at all, but an aquatic salamander called a two-toed Amphiuma. Thank you to all who took the time to comment!

Lauren Shaffer

Lauren Shaffer wrote 146 posts

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  • Jiyce Werntgen

    Hi Lauren,

    So awesome to see some of your incredible photography and happy Bryan has shared it with us. I had the pleasure of watching you at work on a RoadScholar trip a couple of May’s ago in Maine and remember your valiant efforts (successful I might add) to get photos of the Puffin while rocking fiercely in our little boat……good times. Continued good luck to you.

    • Lauren Shaffer

      Great to hear from you! I’ll never forget that rocking boat in Maine! That was the most challenging photography I’ve ever done! Maybe we’ll cross paths again at another Road Scholar trip!

  • Bill Snyder

    Great shots!

  • Susan Werntgen

    Amazing photos and narrative!

  • brighamstephen

    Nice sequence. Sometimes life is just not fair.

  • Nate

    You know, that doesn’t look like a racer. It looks like an Amphiuma, which would add an additional level of cool to these photos.

  • Marcus

    Great shots! However, the prey items neither a black racer, nor even a snake. It is a type of aquatic salamander called an amphiuma

    • Lauren Shaffer

      Thanks, Marcus! I added a footnote to correct the information! I never knew salamanders that big or snakelike existed!

  • Andy Avram

    That is actually a type of salamander called a Two-toed Amphiuma. They have four tiny legs, you can’t even see it in the picture, but are fairly common at Corkscrew Swamp.

  • Brian Menker

    I believe that is an aquatic salamander known as a Greater Siren and not a snake.
    Fascinating series and awesome shots!

    • Lauren Shaffer

      Thanks, Brian! I love to be able to put a name to things, and this one looked a little odd for a snake!

  • Steve Scordino

    That is amazing you noticed the hawk while shooting pictures of the ibis. I get way too focused on one thing and miss the forest for the trees. Great pictures too.

    • Lauren Shaffer

      Thanks, Steve! That hawk was close! Not sure how long he was sitting there while I was shooting the ibis, but luckily I finally noticed him. Makes for a great story!

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