If you’re squeamish, close your eyes and go to another website right now. Otherwise, read on.
Yesterday I learned about a bird incident that happened last Saturday in downtown Pittsburgh across the street from the Westin Convention Center Hotel.
Mark Wolz, who works at the hotel, reported it to the National Aviary. His pictures and story were so fascinating that my friends at the Aviary shared it with me.
According to Mark, patrons of the Tonic Restaurant said the hawks were chasing and ran into the restaurant window. By the time he saw the birds, the red-tailed hawk had killed the immature coopers hawk and was beginning to eat.
As you can see from Mark’s picture, the red-tail was very hungry. Even so, people could get quite close.
Normally red-tails pick up their prey and carry it to a tree to eat. Perhaps the prey was too heavy or the red-tail decided it would be too hard to move with so many people nearby. Instead he spread his wings and mantled over his meal. This made him look large and fierce.
After the red-tail finished eating, he flew to perch on a street light at 10th and Penn. At that point another hawk dove and screeched at the red-tail.
Mark said the attacker had his wings tucked back like a jet fighter as he dove at the red-tailed hawk. That shape sounds like a peregrine to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the Gulf Tower peregrines. Peregrines defend their territory against red-tailed hawks and the Gulf Tower is right next door.
Hawks don’t usually eat other hawks so I wonder… What led up to this? Was the coopers hawk weak and picked out as a potential meal? Did the red-tail merely intend to harrass the coopers but decided to take advantage of a stunned foe? Who was the final attacking hawk? Was it one of the Gulf Tower peregrines?
The more I watch birds, the more I’m amazed by what they do.
(photo by Mark Wolz)