Anonymous yet personal, this Blog chronicles
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Friday, January 30, 2009

Raptors in suburbia

We have a hawk that likes to hang out around our house in suburbia. At one point this morning it few right up to the window and stared directly at me in the eye.

There seems to be a food supply in the area, and this fellow just caught and consumed half of a squirrel for breakfast, depositing the other half of the carcass conspicuously on my back porch. It's is kind of sad, since we have gotten to know our squirrels quite well over the years.

He came back later to finish off the remainder of the squirrel for lunch, and didn't seem to mind my presence. Maybe he plans on having me for dinner.


Feb. 5th update...

This particular story has created more hits than any other post on this blog (I'm tracking it with Google Analytics). For those wanting more video, there is now a series of movies on Youtube - starting with:

I also received two very informed email from a reader named Soheil. He has allowed me at add his comments to this post...

Jim, that raptor eating the squirrel on your back porch is a young Redtailed Hawk. This one undoubtedly hatched and grew up in an urban neighborhood, hence its lack of fear of humans. Also, young birds often seem tamer or bolder than adults. Presumably, the boldest or tamest get taken out and the surviving adults are the more cautious ones.
About the squirrels: Those and just about all rodents seem to have been put on earth to feed hungry hawks. Basically,the world of the living is divided among two classes: Hawks and hawk-fodder. Count me on the side of the hawks.


Jim, as a birder I'm used to having my opinions on birds (and mammals) on the bird listservs around here. You may use my post in any way you like.

Cool video. I love the way it uses its legs to boost up every time it tears a piece off. Sharing our world intimately with these wild creatures is fun, isn't it? I recently spent a week in Nevada with a very experienced hawk-bander counting, trapping and banding hawks. Most were redtails, but with other species mixed in. It's a grand experience to hold one of these creatures in your hands. It's even grander (and painful as hell) when one takes a bite out of you, or sinks its talons into you.

On the local front, there were 136 Redtails counted on the Greater Boston Christmas Bird Count in December. That's not an all-time high, but close. In Saugus, at Rumney Marsh and Bear Creek Sanctuary, we've recently tallied at least 9 species of raptors,including 4 - 5 Redtails, 2 Roughlegs, 2 - 3 Northern Harriers, 2 American Kestrels, a Merlin, 2 Peregrine Falcons, a Bald Eagle, 2 Short-eared Owls and a Snowy Owl. The place is crawling with raptors. The varmints must be tasty!

Sorry, I don't know if you are interested in these facts and figures, but I'm just brimming with enthusiasm about raptors these days!