Reader Ken wrote to us to describe a scene of animal barbarism that arrived on his rear doorstep last weekend. Although Bernalwood does not condone avian-on-avian violence, we share this tale as a public service to our local pigeons and sparrows.
We have two Cooper’s Hawks that visit our yard frequently to dine on the wild birds we feed. Every few days the bluejays, sparrows, and finches explode into a flurried panic as one of their buddies gets snatched up in mid-flight and taken to a high up branch to satisfy one of the hawks’ protein fixes. Often the hawks will sit on the rail of our deck, sunning themselves while plotting their next attack. They are beautiful and amazing. But every time I try to photograph one, their superior rod and cone count triggers a flight response. I have only a couple of images so far.
Pigeons are the unwanted side effect of feeding the other birds, which include many unusual migrating species. Yesterday the progeny of the pair of hawks — an adolescent at best — came swooping into the yard and slammed into a pigeon which was walking around under the feeders, playing the best “sitting duck” role of his short life. Sitting on top of the still-alive pigeon, the hawk dug in, tearing at him, feathers flying everywhere and blood, lots and lots of blood. We had a front row seat, with the carnage taking place about 6 feet from our desks on the other side of a window. At one point the hawk was bothered by a flapping wingm so he just ripped it off. I actually started feeling compassion for the pigeon, wishing the hawk would have just snapped him in two, putting him to death quickly. He spent about an hour pulling apart the pigeon and scattering his remains all over our stone patio, fence, and planter boxes. I’m about to begin my Sunday with a hose and shovel, cleaning up after Mother Nature.
Photo: Courtesy of Ken