January 2012 Archives

Red-tailed hawk

New York, NY, USA -- 19 January 2012 | Permalink
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"Let da boid eat! Aintcha ever seen a boid eatin' before?" shouted the old man. The people gathered by the fence in the south-west corner of Tompkins Square Park ignored him. The 'boid' - a rather handsome young red-tailed hawk - ignored him too.

The hawk has been a resident of the park for about a year now, and has grown from a rather callow fledgling - treated with visible derision by the local squirrels - into a more substantial creature, definitely the apex predator of the park. Sometimes, when we walk through the park on Sundays, it can be seen perched in one of the trees, watching the squirrels and pigeons with the air of a diner hesitating over the choices on the menu.

Today, it had apparently made its choice. It sat on the ground, talons planted in what had recently been a rather plump and glossy pigeon. From time to time, it sank its hooked beak into the dead bird, and yanked loose a tuft of feathers.

It seemed remarkably unperturbed by the people watching it from behind the fences. From time to time it would rotate its head and fix the onlookers disapprovingly with one yellow eye, but then it would go back to tearing at its prey. The patch of strewn feathers around the corpse grew steadily bigger.

At last, it apparently decided that it would prefer to continue its meal in private. Grasping the pigeon firmly, it launched itself off the ground and flapped away towards the west, disappearing over the housetops on Avenue A. A few feathers swirled briefly in its wake.