red-tailed hawk

A Reminder

By Danny Hart

We’ve had a visitor to our building over the last couple of weeks. He’s a beauty. And from the little I know of birds and what I could find online after his previous visit, he appears to be a red-tailed hawk. It’s a bit strange seeing such a huge bird perched in a courtyard in downtown Washington, DC on a snowy spring day. I would have thought he’d be more comfortable out in the marshes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, or soaring the skies above Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

But, I think this visitor wanted pay a visit to remind us of the majesty and beauty that shares this planet we’re trying to protect.

About the author: Danny Hart is EPA’s Associate Director of Web Communications

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

The Red Tailed Hawk

By Amy Miller

The lone hawk sat on our swing five feet from a gaggle of neighborhood children. “It’s a juvenile,” my-son-the-raptor-expert declared.

About 50 times the size of the hummingbird fluttering over the nearby hibiscus, it didn’t look like a juvenile to me.

“That’s why it’s so close and not afraid of us,” Benjamin informed me.

One week it’s stink bugs, the next it’s red-tailed hawks. Humbling the things your kids know (and you don’t).

When I asked Benjamin how he knew it was a red-tailed hawk, he looked at me like I had asked him the color of Grant’s white horse? Besides large red tails, these hawks have predominantly auburn bodies and a few dark feathers along the outer lines of the wings.

The next day the “definitely a red-tailed hawk” landed in a tree outside my window. Never before had a bird of prey been so near for so long to our family homestead. I stopped friends driving by, called neighborhood children from their dinners and took a number of pictures thinkable only in the digital age. The hawk posed for the pictures, presented its profile and for a week was almost a pet.

And so I took an interest and learned that hawks are territorial and will defend their hunting area; and that red tailed hawks belongs to the group of hawks know as buteos. I learned that buteos rely on eyesight and stealth. They grab prey – usually small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects- then drive talons in to ensure the prey is dead. Accipiters – the other type of hawk – are fast and built to fly quickly through the woods with shorter wings.

It is the talons, hook-shaped beaks and good eye-sight of raptors, like eagles, hawks, vultures, owls and falcons, which  sets them apart from other animal-eating birds, like crows, robins and woodpeckers.

When our new pet decided to move on, it soared high, as hawks do, to save energy they otherwise would use to flap its wings.

These birds, native to North America, are particularly adaptable. They are found in deserts, forests and grasslands and they may migrate or they may stay put. The older birds with established territories sometimes choose to stay. After I hadn’t seen the hawk in awhile, I assumed it had joined the majority that migrate south.

Then, a week ago, the hawk reappeared, back on the giant maple with its leaves almost all fallen. I welcomed our pet back home.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, seven chickens, two parakeets, dog and a great community.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

The Red-tailed Hawks of Central Park and Secondary Poisonings: Part I

By Marcia Anderson

Two of the young red-tailed hawk hatched from a nesting couple in Central Park, New York City, have recently been diagnosed with cases of poisoning from rodent baited traps set out in neighboring properties. The two eyasses, were captured, diagnosed and treated for secondary poisoning.

What is primary versus secondary poisoning? Primary poisoning refers to poisoning resulting from eating a bait. Secondary poisoning occurs when eating another animal that has been poisoned, such as a bird eating a rat containing residues of a rodenticide.

Red-talked hawk nest (image c/o D. Bruce Yolton)

People often forget to think about the fact that once the animal they have targeted has eaten poison, that animal itself now becomes poison for any other animals which may eat it. In other words, if your dog or cat eats a poisoned mouse they too will now have ingested the poison as secondary poisoning. Each year countless pets, wildlife, even beautiful eagles and hawks die from secondary poisoning. You do not want to be responsible for the death of the wrong animal via poisoning.

The problem with poisoning rodents is that it doesn’t kill them fast enough. Poisoning produces a slow death for any animal which may ingest it. Anti-coagulants contain chemicals that limit blood clotting and can take up to 2 weeks to kill the animal. The rodents wander aimlessly for hours before dying… easy prey for a hungry wild mammal or raptor. Secondary poisoning is just as serious as primary poisoning; as the animal is too sick to hunt or fly, and will often starve to death (secondary victims are often the young, who once back at the den or nest will become disoriented, lethargic, and will starve to death or fall prey to other predators). These two young hawks were very lucky, as they and their parents are very high profile residents of Central Park and concerned citizens noticed the changes in their behavior and help was timely provided.

The question is: Which birds and mammals are at risk? More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.