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."


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!