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A Hawk in the Hood; Pigeons Beware

by Borderstan.com April 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm 6 Comments

Cooper's Hawk, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Borderstan, Logan Circle

This hawk, or one of his friends, has been spotted several times recently in the vicinity of 15th and Q Streets NW.

From Matty Rhoades

It was a quiet Saturday morning at home. The window shades were up with the back garden in full view. I have some transitional spring flowers in hanging baskets and my summer red geraniums are already in the boxes on the fence. It’s a nice view.

Suddenly my spouse said, “Something horrible is happening back there!”

“What!?” says me. I went to the window, thinking there was probably a dead rat on the patio. Instead, I saw a grayish-brown hawk dining on a dead pigeon — the small downy feathers of the unfortunate bird scattered on the bricks.

Hawks, which are raptors, are sometimes spotted in urban areas. Mice, rats, pigeons and small birds are all good meals for them.

A quick search of Google images and Wikipedia left me convinced that our visitor was a Red-shouldered Hawk. It shouldn’t be confused with the Red-tailed Hawk, which has also been seen in the Dupont area. One of the contributors to the Borderstan Flickr pool, ok-oyot, contributed a photo of a Red-tailed in Dupont Circle in February (he or she had also just hunted down a pigeon).

After posting the story and pic on Facebook — and numerous comments later — one friend chimed in: “I’m pretty sure its a Cooper’s Hawk. I took a few photos of similar carnage to a pigeon in the alley at 15th and Q Streets.”

A neighbor also told us that she has seen a hawk in the area that sounds like the same one. After this morning’s edition of Borderstan Animal Kingdom, I remembered that I had seen a hawk swooping around our block about a week ago. The same one?

Have you seen this hawk in the area? Let us know — we will be on the lookout.

Comments (6)

  1. A hawk that looks very similar to the one in the photo sometimes perches on the balcony outside my office at One Judiciary Square (441 4th St NW). He is magnificent looking!

  2. I have seen the hawk many times, for many weeks, sometimes daily perched high up on trees accross my house on Vermont Avenue.
    Also the sidewalk has been littered with pigeon’s remains, wings, legs, etc.
    Not a pretty sight.
    I realize it is Nature’s way, but I wish he or she flies away for good.

  3. I bet the Hawk thinks the same about you….

  4. My bet is that it is a Red-tailed Hawk which is very common in this area. Also I have heard a Red-tailed calling in the Borderstan neighborhood.

    I have seen an American Kestrel eating a bird on a TV antenna across the alley. Peregrine Falcons have been spotted regularily around Dupont Circle and over Connecticut Ave. Winter of 2010 a Snowy Owl was reported on numerous occasions flying up Connecticut Ave. around the Circle, and as far away as Tenleytown over the Sears building.

    Additionally in the Borderstan area there have have been nesting Carolina Wrens, the District’s bird, Red-bellied Woodpeckers on 16th St., and Dark-eyed Juncos in the area. American Goldfinch and White-throat Sparrows make seasonal appearances.

    Actually this is a good area for urban birding. Take the ear buds out and listen for them.

  5. About a month ago, we (and our kids) watched a hawk perch outside our window in a courtyard off the 1700 block of Church Street NW.

  6. About a year and a half ago I spotted a similar hawk on Vermont Ave NW (between N & O Streets). Actually I spotted the pigeon carnage first which caused me to look up. I saw the a hawk a few times during this period. One sighting occurred on Kingman Place NW at Q Street.

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