Lunch at the Library

Immature red-tailed hawk eating at the library (photo by Beth Lawry)
Before Christmas I missed one of the most exciting bird events to occur at our library in a long time.

Normally I visit the main branch of Carnegie Library several times a week.  It’s an appealing destination in winter: warm and dry, the right distance for a lunchtime walk, lots of books, free Internet access, food and drink at the cafe, a good view of the Pitt peregrines from the front steps (if they’re visible), and the possibility of running into friends.

But that week I worked through lunch so I missed Nature, red in tooth and claw — er, rather, red in beak and claw — when an immature red-tailed hawk very publicly ate a gray squirrel near the library’s front door.  (Don’t look too closely if you’re squeamish!)

The event was impossible to miss, if only I’d been there.  Fortunately I received this photo from Beth Lawry and read about it on the library’s Eleventh Stack blog.  Click on the photo to reach the blog.

Apparently I’m not the only one who spends lunchtime at the library.

(photo by Beth Lawry)

7 thoughts on “Lunch at the Library

  1. Happy New Year, Kate!

    Your blog reminds me how ideally situated the Library is for bird watching. Thanks for the education and inspiration.


  2. Hawks, especially red-tails, are EVERYWHERE and eating all the squirrels, rabbits, etc. to the point where one hardly sees anymore squirrels, rabbits, etc., atleast in the parts where I live (Pittsburgh, PA)

    I say it’s high time we get rid of these birds. The PA Game Commission could offer up a bounty (say, 50 bucks) for every dead red-tail. They might offer a smaller bounty for other species.

    Let’s kill the hawks, whether a bounty is offered or not.

    The sight of a hawk should be a rare one, indeed, as it used to be.

  3. Paul, the laws against killing hawks are enforced by the PA Game Commission so you won’t find any support. If you miss seeing squirrels & rabbits, come to Heinz Chapel area. There are plenty of squirrels & rabbits in Schenley Park & on Pitt’s campus.

    p.s. Did you know that red-tailed hawks eat rats? Yup. I’d rather have red-tails.

  4. Kate, there are plenty of stupid laws like the ones that protect red-tails. I still say ‘kill the hawks’, especially the red-tails.

    And as a very frequent visitor to the golf course and trails in Schenley Park over the last two-plus decades, I can assure you that I now I see MORE red-tails than I do squirrels or rabbits.

  5. Paul, there are more red-tails in Schenley Park because humans have changed the habitat to match what red-tailed hawks like and red-tails have become more tolerant of humans near them.
    Fortunately there are laws that protect birds, hawks and small game (squirrels and rabbits) since humans are the greatest threat to all three.
    Are you perhaps afraid of hawks? People who want to kill them sometimes/often are.

  6. Kate,
    You’re right about habitat change brought about largely by the proliferation of humans. Red-tails and other raptors thrive in open areas like parks and surburban neighborhoods.

    It goes without saying that the planet would be a much better place if we could simply eliminate 4-5 billion people. I don’t have a problem with that at all.

    Afraid of hawks? Not at all! And even I will admit they are beautiful to watch. There’s just way too many of them.

  7. Paul, Just to clear this up:
    >”Hawks have reportedly taken small dogs and cats.”
    It is so RARE that it’s reported as shocking. Yes, shocking because it’s so rare. Hawks do the calculation: “Will it hurt me to catch this thing?” And the answer for dogs and cats is “Yes.”

    >the planet would be a much better place if we could simply eliminate 4-5 billion people. … I don’t wish it, but it won’t be long before they take a human baby or two (or at least make the attempt).
    Well actually your second sentence is the answer to your first one… but it won’t happen. Hawks will not take small children. Again, too big & too dangerous.

    More discussion on this? We’ll take it offline.

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