Thursday, July 29, 2021

Molting Christo dramatically scarfs down an entire rat

This last Wednesday evening, we found Christo, the red-tailed King of Tompkins Square Park, perched in one of his favorite trees. He's going through his summer molt, which makes him look kind of terrible.

Christo is missing a lot of feathers from his head and face, so he looks extremely pale and ragged. You can see the rough-looking area around his eye in the photo below.

For comparison, this photo was taken in February 2020, and shows how Christo normally looks. He usually appears very sleek and has a golden-brown head.

This photo is from February 2019 and shows his dark wings and belly band.

If we didn't know better, we might think this was an entirely different bird.

Despite the changing feathers, Christo still has the same angular facial shape, which is one of his distinctive features.

As Christo scratches. little tufts of downy feathers fly out.

As we watched, Christo suddenly dove off the branch and into some bushes about fifty feet away.

He returned with a small rat.

Back up on the branch, Christo quickly scarfed the rat down whole. He usually tears up the prey and takes several bites, but not this time.

Down it goes!

After eating, Christo looks especially haggard, but he's okay.

The small rat was only suitable as an appetizer, so Christo returned to the buffet for a second serving.

You can see in the photo above Christo has seven tail feathers with one partially growing in. He will have twelve tail feathers when molting is complete in another month or so.

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