Volume 74, Number 39 | February 2 - 8, 2005

A day in the life of a hawk

Villager photos by Bob Arihood

These photographs are of one hawk, taken in Tompkins Sq. Park on one afternoon and evening of a late December day. Scientifically known as buteo jamaicensis borealis, the bird is commonly known as an eastern red-tailed hawk. As its red tail indicates, this bird is an adult, though probably only 2 to 3 years old, as suggested by the fact that it roosted alone overnight in the park and was not observed accompanied by a mate. The photos of the hawk and squirrel depict a common event in this particular tree. The tree has a large hollow used as a home by many squirrels, that feel the tree is their turf. They always protest the presence of a hawk in their tree. The hawks, for their own reasons, prefer this tree for resting while eating and digesting a kill — usually a pigeon, occasionally a starling — basking in the rays of the low winter sun and even roosting overnight. The hawks are not very interested in the squirrels, since they are already feeding, but still the squirrels and a few song birds harry and harass them until they fly away. On this day, a juvenile hawk also slept in

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