Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Rat Killing Hawk of Red Cross Square!


This morning as I walked through a park near the White House, I was startled when a big brown bird flew out of the grass in front of me and landed about 10 feet away. “A duck,” I thought. “A duck with a rat in it’s claws.” Okay, so ornithology is not my forte. My caffeine kicked in and I realized I was looking at a hawk I have seen in the trees of the square for a couple of years. He was ready to have breakfast. And I was about to lose mine.

I whipped out my camera phone to randomly press buttons in an attempt to take a picture but this startled him and he took off again and slowly swooped across the square with his rat McMuffin still wiggling in his claws and landed in a low branch of a tree shading the sidewalk .

A young woman was walking up the sidewalk and was closing in on the tree. What to do? Yell “Hey lady! There’s a big bird eating a rat above your head!” Considering the large security presence in this neighborhood, I decided against being the Paul Revere of raining rodent body parts. Fortunately, she made it through the gauntlet without getting a ratatouille facial.

The picture here is of the same hawk although it was taken earlier in the year by a colleague. I believe it may be a Coopers hawk. The rat was standard DC issue but not this one.


Update: Commentator Christina of From the Garden State to the Golden State blog believes it is a Red-tailed hawk: "the lack of overall rust-colored barring on the breast and the presence of the cumberbund on its front around the middle are giveaways."

2 comments:

Miles said...

Wow, very cool! It's great to see hawks move into cities. There are at least 20 nesting pairs of red-tailed hawks in NYC, and I spot them fairly often here in the DC area.

Piranha said...

That's actually not a Cooper's, it's a red-tailed... the lack of overall rust-colored barring on the breast and the presence of the "cumberbund" on its front around the middle are giveaways. Still super cool, though! Great picture!