Raptor Wednesday

What a racket! Twice recently I’ve come across a storm of American Robins sounding their strident chip alarms. A perching Red-tailed Hawk was the source of the commotion both times. In this second case, a buzzing Northern Mockingbird was in on it, too, repeatedly razzing, sometimes even clipping, the big raptor. When the hawk flew out, the Mockingbird stayed with it around the Sylvan Water.ourSoon after, but hnheralded by any pissed-off songbirds, this Red-tailed flew up off the ground to land here before taking off to a higher perch.

Reports of three young hawks in the Green-Wood nest. Reports of a nestling in Tompkins Square Park dying: rat poison remains a serious threat up the food-chain.
Out at the Salt Marsh, at least two heads of baby Osprey were seen here recently. One can be seen between the two adults. Looking much a mini Loch Ness monster.

We are approximately a week or so away from baby American Kestrels outside our window. Or so we judge from last year; the Wild Bird Fund has already started receiving fledglings picked up off sidewalks around the city. Monday afternoon, both male and female kestrels were in the air chasing a Red-tailed Hawk out of the neighborhood. A little later, the perching female kestrel was swooped on by a neighboring Northern Mockingbird. And so it goes…

Yesterday morning, there were two males and one female American Kestrel on the solar building. All three of them were adults.

3 Responses to “Raptor Wednesday”

  1. 1 constance wolf June 5, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Hi Matthew, Enjoying your posts as always. Please tell Me, How does the rat poison reach the birds? Thank you. Constance

    Sent from my iPhone


    • 2 mthew June 5, 2019 at 7:40 am

      HI, Constance.

      Rats ingest the poison, which either kills them fast or slow. Hawks will sometimes scavenge carrion, so they can get it that way. When a hawk captures a poisoned but still living rat, it takes in that poison by eating the prey. The next rat adds more poison load to the bird, etc. Similar to pesticides working their way up the food chain.

      Red-tailed Hawks do eat a lot of other things besides rats, one of the reasons they are so successful in the city. Of course, birds and other mammals can also concentrate toxins like lead, a neurological poison still very much present in the city.

      Then there are the diseases like West Nile, transmitted bird-to-bird by mosquito (humans can get this too).

      Another threat for young birds is automobiles. Oh, and there’s also tanglefoot, a gel-like product used to ward off “pest” birds that makes no distinction among other birds.

      Unfortunately, a good rule of thumb for raptors is that only one of three will make it to their first birthday.

      NYC Parks doesn’t use rat poison, as far as I can tell, but people (owners, landlords, supers, businesses) surrounding the parks do.

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