Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hawk wants to eat Cat? Not likely.

Hawk eyes cat for its breakfast

Janesville Gazette
(Published Tuesday, August 21, 2007 11:32:51 AM)

A hawk looking for breakfast in the form of a tabby cat swooped from a nearby tree and crashed through a screen into the porch of a Janesville house last week.

Dave Langowski, 1705 Eastwood Ave., was enjoying his own breakfast at the kitchen countertop with a clear view through the French doors to the porch."I look up and here's the hawk, flapping around in the porch," Langowski said. "And Kramer's going after him.

"Kramer is the cat that moments before had been lounging on the porch, minding his own business and watching chipmunks and squirrels."I jump up and open the door wider and holler, 'Kramer, get in here,'" said Langowski, 62. "You think a cat's going to listen to me? It's not going to happen."

Dave Langowski of Janesville holds Kramer, one of his two family cats, as he looks through the hole in his screen left by an immature red-tailed hawk that dive-bombed into Langowski's porch last week to attack Kramer. 'Somehow, I've got to get ahold of Kramer,'

Langowski said he thought to himself while assessing the situation. 'He's going to lose this war.'A

"Kramer, look at the talons," Langowski said later in recounting his story. "You don't have any claws on your front paws. You're going to be toast.

"I don't think he realized what he was getting himself into," said Langowski, adding that Kramer is as goofy as the Seinfeld character he is named after.

Langowski and his wife, Josie, cherish Kramer and a second cat, Reggie."Somehow, I've got to get a hold of Kramer," he thought. "He's going to lose this war."

But Langowski also was looking at the bird's talons, thinking: "Kramer, you and I are in trouble."I grab a chair to protect myself to go out and rescue Kramer."

He got a hold of Kramer, threw him into the house and slammed shut the French doors.

Then he had to get rid of the hawk, which was hanging from one of the screens. But both screened doors were locked.

"He's watching me-no pun intended-like a hawk," Langowski said.

Scenarios ran through his head: He could grab a blanket, throw it over the hawk and run it outside. Or he could cut the screen where the bird is attached, hoping it would fly out.

But after another look at the wicked talons, he decided to consult his neighbor, an outdoors guy.

When he and Jim Rhoades returned, the hawk was perched on a white wicker chair. Now, they were outside looking in. The hawk was glaring at Langowski with that predator's eye.

They planned a diversion: Langowski rushed the porch through the French doors and headed straight to one of the locked doors. Jim, outside on the opposite side, started making noises.

Langowski opened the door and got behind it. The hawk flew at him, again not grasping the whole screen thing. Langowski rattled the door a bit, and the bird found the opening and flew away.

The hawk is fine. Kramer is fine. The other cat, Reggie, is fine. In fact, Reggie is very fine because he watched the excitement safely behind the French doors.The porch screen is not so fine. It's got a 2-foot hole.

As for Langowski?" It was too early in the morning for me to have a drink," Langowski said.

Very amusing I'm sure, but very probably not the reality of the situation. That was my first thought, as was also the thought of the local Raptor Lady. She says there are any number of possible scenarios for the hawk's behavior and cat eating isn't even one of them. Here's one possibility. Note that the screened in porch, is screened in on three sides. The hawk may have been looking to nab one of the Chipmunks or Squirrels the cat had been watching, through two screens on a corner of the porch. The hawk may have taken the dive without really taking screening into the flight plan. It is a young bird. Remember hawks crash through foliage with abandon at times.

What does Mr. L. say? That the hawk was flapping about on the porch and the CAT went after it. At that point the hawk is completely flipping out and attempting to protect itself or flipping out and just trying to get away. It is undoubtedly confused, to say the least, and a Keystone Cops Scenario develops, thankfully without anyone getting hurt.

In my experience, an animal having a strong urge pays no attention to the screen in a screen porch even if on a normal day, they realize it is a barrier.

Many years ago I was sitting on my screen porch with my cat, Gwen, and Goldberry, my Wire-haired Fox Terrier. We are all minding our own business. The neighbor's smallish, but arrogant and ill tempered dog marches into our yard and begins barking at the cat. In the blink of an eye, Gwen has burst through the screen, to the outside, and is taking on the neighbor's dog. In the time it took for me to see the cat-sized hole in the screen, Goldberry the dog, burst through it to go help her buddy the cat, and there is a now a dog-sized hole in the screen. By the time I get out the screen door, Goldberry has lifted the neighbor's dog up by the neck and is shaking it as if it were a rat. No small feat as the neighbor's dog, is nearly the same size. The cat is looking for a new opening. I tell my animals to stop. The do. All ends well, no one is hurt. (Goldberry had a very soft mouth. She once leapt off the back porch and grabbed a sparrow out of the air. When I rushed over to save the sparrow, she gave it to me and there wasn't a mark on it. In fact, it wasn't even soggy. It flew out of my hand as if nothing had happened.)

Therefore if animals that know a screen is a barrier but in a hot moment go through it anyway, I can well imagine that a hungry young hawk seeing a squirrel through the double screening of a corner, wouldn't give it a second thought either.

Donegal Browne

P.S. As yesterday's blog didn't show up due to Blogger weirdness until about an hour ago, I pushed the publish button last night repeatedly, you may have missed it. Therefore scroll down to the next entry if you didn't read the one about the Cooper's Hawk hopping around in the backyard.

(For more recent posts, click on palemaleirregulars at the top of this page.)


Anonymous said...

For the second time in several months, a huge redtailed hawk flew THROUGH our screen onto the back porch, tearing a huge gash and wrecking several other screens trying to fly out again. He was clearly trapped inside, flying into the screens again and again to try to escape, making talon and beak holes in all the screens, (not to mention deficating all over the place.)

Apparently, being far-sighted, they see the sky and woods right through the porch, yet cannot see that there is screening in between. They are magnificent beasts, and we always enjoy seeing them "making lazy circles in the sky", washing their prey in the birdbath, or just staring and rotating their beautiful heads from a perch on a high dead branch. Sometimes, in the summer, the hawk comes and sits his huge body in the birdbath to cool off!

We have two acres of privacy and thickets, and we revel in the wildlife, including a fox, but this was a bit too close! My brave husband, Ernest Taub, went out of the kitchen door, opened the door to the porch, propped it with a rock, and then went around to the other side and made a racket to try to scare the hawk out.

Eventually after about ten minutes, and hundreds of dollars of damage later, (during which I took these photos through the window) the hawk found the open door and escaped into the woods.

Donegal Browne said...

Ms. Taub, As you see we've heard of several instances of hawks blundring through screened in porches, usually tempted by something, not seeing the screen as they see the trees and sky on the otherside or missing their mark, overshooting and ending up inside. But you have a repeater offender who seems to be repeatedly tempted to fly through and neither of you needs that.

This needs some investigation as you don't want her wrecking the place and as she's stressed out trying to get out she may injure herself.

Lets try to get to the bottom of this and work for a happier outcome for everyone. Unfortunately your photographs did not come through.

If you'd be so kind as to go to the mainpage (click on the blue Palemaleirregulars up left) of the blog, then go to the right column there and find the place where it says, CONTACT ME, click, and you can send me an email with the photos attached. If you can't find it, here is my address written out in English in hopes to avoid spam, palemaleirregulars at yahoo with the normal dot com at the end.

By the way is this a mature hawk with the rufous tail or is this an immature with a brown tail? The young are much more likely to make this kind of blunder though adults have done it too.

What part of the country do you live in?

How often has this occurred and whatlength of time was in beteen?

I take it that you don't have say a tasty looking parrot sunning on the porch or a chubby quinea pig out taking the air. :-) RTH's regularly crash through branches of trees in Central Park to capture pigeons.

Another possibility is that you have a squirrel who is using your screen as part of his escape technique. Squirrel may hang from the screen, wait for your bird to dive for it and at the last moment jump off causing Mrs. Redtail to bomb through the screen while Squirrel giggles all the way home.

We've had several seenerios but yours may be altogether different. So send off those photographs. I can't wait, plus any any other information you may have whether it seems irrelevant or not.

I just thought of another possibility, do you happen to have a mirror in your screened area or glass that may be relecting the birds image back on herself. Hawks, particularly as breeding season is coming on, don't want other birds in their territory, so Mrs. Red-tail may be "seeing" another female and screen or no screen that girl has GOT to go.
As I say there may be many other possibilites so I'll also send your note off to some other hawk experts to take a gander too.

Your hawk washes prey in the bath? Fascinating. What is the main prey she hunts?
I love the fact she uses your bird bath, I wish one would come and plop into mine.

Do send us the photos and keep in touch!