Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Urban Raptors You May See On Your Fire Escape Plus a Hawk Kill Assumption

Young Peregrine Falcon, with still a few baby feathers sticking out of the top of her head.
(Talk about focus!)
Courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR

Why a Peregrine? I asked our Anonymous contributor near Ovington Avenue over in Brooklyn what sorts of perches he'd seen the hawks on, which led to some other interesting information and I decided it might be time to recap with photographs just which species of raptors tend to have taken the urban landscape to heart, have become residents, and we may see and like to identify.

Mature Cooper's Hawk
Courtesy of

Here is Anon of Brooklyn's response to my question about perches--
The only perches I've seen the occasional hawk on is my fire escape (with the suet feeder). I don't know what kind of hawks these are but none of them appeared to have a red tail. So perhaps the hawk is either an immature Red-tail or a Cooper's hawk. Aside from the fire escape, the only other times I've seen any hawks is when they were being mobbed by angry crows.

However, the bird that wreaks the most terror is the little kestrel which zooms down in a dive bomb. All the birds--pigeons, house finches, sparrows, monk parrots--disappear in a flash.

I don't know where the pigeon coop guy gets his pigeons but almost all of them are either white or russet colored. A few of his pigeons might be friendly with the local pigeons because more and more neighborhood pigeons seem to be sporting a bit of white or russet color among their predominantly greyish feathers.

(Anon, regarding some of those bits of white and russet in the "wild" pigeon population, I suspect that when the pigeon coop owner flies his birds, as sometimes occurs, a few of them periodically decide to go off on their own during exercise, perhaps having eyed what they feel is the perfect mate while peering between the slats of their coop out their in the feral pigeon population.

Part of a game that was played by competing flock owners prevalent in the days of many rooftop coops, was to fly their flocks at the same time, hoping to tempt some of their neighbors birds into their flock at which time they'd be "sold" back to the original owner in a form of ransom.)

Photo Donna Browne
And immature Cooper's Hawk peruses a flock of sparrows passing by.

Photo Donna Browne
A crafty male Kestrel, of the species who wreak terror at Anon's bird feeder, hides a vole under his body to obscure it from a trio of foraging Crows.

Photo by Donna Browne
2007-"Little Brother" of the Cathedral Nest of St. John the Divine, son of Tristan and Isolde, watches a jazz concert in Morningside Park. A Red-tailed Hawk commonly called a Brown-tail at this age for obvious reasons. Note the brown tail with its bars and white tip.
And here a nice view of the reverse sexual dimorphism of raptors. Note Big Sister, right, and Little Brother, left of the nest mentioned above, hanging out at the softball field.

The Gusler family recently dropped off their pet dog, May, at the Pet Lodge on Tuskawilla Road in Oviedo before they went on vacation.

The manager at the Pet Lodge said the dog was left in a fenced back yard for only a couple of minutes by a dog walker.

When the dog walker returned, May was gone.

The employees at the business said with high fences, no holes in the yard and no outside access, there is only one explanation -- one of the hawks in the area carried the dog off.

"I don't doubt it because we are in Florida," the dog's owner, Deanne Gusler, said. "But in my opinion, if they know there is a chance a hawk will swoop down and get my dog, they need to be down there watching her."

The owner of the Pet Lodge said he plans put mesh wire across the top of the back yard fences to protect the dogs from large birds.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.
(Sally of Kentucky and I have been investigating stories of hawks vs dogs, much more to come on that.)
Donna Browne


Karen Anne said...

Didn't we decide hawks couldn't lift dogs? How about a huge owl (you can tell I can't identify most birds), or some other predator that could climb fences. Or even the dog getting out and the kennel owners not finding the place. Or a human stealing the dog.

Donegal Browne said...

Spot on, Karen Anne!

More on just that topic in 12/03/2010 post