Raptor Wednesday

Red-tailed Hawks are commonly seen here in Brooklyn. It’s notable when I don’t see one on a walk in Green-Wood. They not even uncommon sights from the apartment window. A couple of weeks ago, on a very windy morning, I watched four of them simultaneously riding the wind.
But this is something different. All these pictures are of another Buteo genus raptor, the Red-shouldered Hawk.
About 50 minutes after seeing this air show, I ran into what was the presumably the very same juvenile Buteo lineatus, too-briefly perched.
Famed as a snake-eating species, but this one is going to have try for something else to munch on. Yes, we have snakes in Brooklyn, but they’re awfully rare. I’ve never seen one here.

Looks like they will eat whatever they can catch. Here’s one list of prey: mammals, birds, frogs, fish, insects, centipedes, spiders, crawfish, earthworms, snails….

“I found in the stomach of one, a striped ground squirrel, a young rabbit, and twenty-four full grown grasshoppers” reported Pro J.E. Gutherie of Ames, IA in 1931 after dissecting two Red-shouldered hawks shot down for the crime of predating birds. The second hawk was “completely filled with our largest common species of grasshoppers, and one that perhaps has been doing the most damage of any in the central states this year.”

Q.: How many grasshoppers does it take to fill a Red-shouldered Hawk’s belly?
A.: 49

Quotes from A.C. Bent’s Life Histories of North American Birds of Prey, Part 1.
***

Yesterday morning I opened the curtains to a spotlight of dawn illuminating a crow hovering around the tall car service antenna one avenue block away. Something was at the top. A Merlin, as it turned out. The Merlin dived down at the crow, chasing it off, and returned to the high perch. It wasn’t there long. Then I noticed a Peregrine on St. Mike’s. Then an American Kestrel on the car service antenna. Then the Merlin showed back up to perch briefly on a bare ailanthus (the day before we watched what was presumably this same Merlin eat a House Sparrow in this tree). For less than a minute, we had Falcon triangulation, all three birds perched and visible from the windows. Moments later they were all gone. This all took place over about 20 minutes, mostly as I made steel cut (30 minute) oatmeal.

By noon yesterday, the ailanthus, which overtopped four stories and a parapet, was cut down and run through the chipper. Didn’t see that coming. Over the years, the Brooklyn Kestrels have frequently resorted to this tree. Cooper’s Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks (a bit wobbly on this upper branches!) have joined Merlins there as well as the usual local suspects, Blue Jays, Northern Mockingbirds, Starlings, Mourning Doves…

2 Responses to “Raptor Wednesday”


  1. 1 Chuck McAlexander November 18, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    Try oat groats. 45 minutes to cook, but as much better than steel cut as steel cut is to rolled oats. I like mine with honey, chopped almonds, blueberries and a dash of cayenne.


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