Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Red-tailed hawks are awesome

This is a red-tailed hawk that lives in Washington Square Park, in the middle of New York City's Greenwich Village. It is eating a pigeon on top of the New York Daily Photo blogger's air conditioning unit.

Red-tailed hawks are doing quite well in Manhattan: they have nests in Inwood Hill Park at the northern tip of the island (where I worked last summer) and in Bowling Green Park near the Battery, as well as in many places in between. They feast on the city's bounty of fat pigeons and nest either on the ledges of high-rise buildings or in dense tree canopies in city parks.

I had the good luck to witness a red-tailed hawk hunting high above Broadway last summer. I was walking down the street towards the subway station when I heard a red-tail's scream above me. I looked up just in time to see an explosion of feathers burst from the middle of a panicked mob of pigeons, and the burdened hawk coasting out from the middle of it and into the trees in Isham Park.

I've lived in the New Hampshire wilderness, hiked at the edges of the Tibetan plateau, skied down volcanoes, etcetera, etcetera, but watching a red-tail eviscerate a pigeon a hundred feet above Broadway in New York City ranks among the most amazing spectacles of nature I've ever witnessed.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tuesday morning I saw a similar scene (minus the pigeon) outside my office window. Though my office is in rural Central Maine, it is still an a impressive sight.

--Margaret Snell

DBC said...

I live in Battery Park City, next to Stuyvesant High School. The other day, I was on the roof of my building taking a phone call and a red-tailed hawk flew by and then perched twenty feet away from me on the parapet of the tower.

Awesome.

Anonymous said...

HI!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that's a red-tail. It may just be the angle, but I work with birds of prey such as this one and this looks more like a Cooper's Hawk to me...

Clare said...

www.tdroddaphoto.com/Birds%20of%20Prey.htm
I agree with whoever commented last. I'm pretty sure this is a Cooper's hawk.

ATW said...

This comment is for the two that think this hawk is a Coops. The hawk in the picture is definately a Red-Tail hawk. Im a falconer and I train them to hunt. It appears to be an Immature Male. Immature redtails have barred tails. After one year they lose the barred tail and moult in the their Adult Redtail. Females are larger than Males. Males can be mistaken as A large female coops, but the difference is in the color, wing and tail length. Nice looking redtail he looks like my goofey female im hunting with right now.

C Neal said...

For what it's worth, Red Tailed Hawks are also more common in NYC parks - probably because they're very territorial (with a limited amount of habitat available) and they're generally bigger than Cooper's Hawks.

I'm certainly no expert, and I've misidentified hawks on this blog before, but I am inclined to believe that this one's an immature red-tail.

Anonymous said...

I found a baby red tail hawk last night on William st in lower Manhattan and brought him to the emergency animal hospital on 62nd st where they turned him over to wildlife people. that can not tell me the condition of the hawk I just hope it is okay.

Sio said...

On MacDougal St, laying in bed I looked out my window where pigeons frequent. Not a bird person at all, My first glance says - Large Pigeon! Then I see feathers from his feet and blood and I automatically think Large Injured Pigeon and I think of the NY pigeon society that nurses them back. He/She takes flight and lets just say I was half right. There was an injured pigeon - but in this guys talons! Pretty Amazing how he carries the prey in flight. I did some research to find red tail hawks in Fr Demo Sq and Wash Sq so while I only saw him a minute and the farthest from an expert ever, I am surmising he was a red tail hawk based on his choice of breakfast, and since the have been seen alot lately here based on the web. Love nature and particularly fascinated by predatory animals - so even though birds aren't my favorite, I feel quite honored to have been able the witness this predator 15 feet from my window eye level with his prey in my own backyard. I hope to see him/her again! I will be watching...but hope he goes for rodents rather then pigeons. We always see mice around this time of year so it would be nice if we had our own natural exterminator!

ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Must have been a fantastic thing to witness.