Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Screen Bombing Red-tailed Hawk

I received this comment connected to a post in which a Red-tail had flown through the screen of a porch. Mrs. Taub, the commentor. has had it happen TWICE and would like some information and advice--

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 defecating 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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 8:07:00 AM EST

Ms. Taub, As you see we've heard of several instances of hawks blundering through screened in porches, usually tempted by something, not seeing the screen as they see the trees and sky on the other side 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.

Please send them again to this email address, donegal.browne@gmail.com

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?

I take it that you don't have say a tasty looking parrot sunning on the porch or a chubby Guinea 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 scenarios 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 reflecting 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 possibilities 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!

Donegal Browne

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