Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Red Tailed Hawk and Squirrel in Hari Krishna Tree in Tompkins Square Park ...

Last week we saw one of the first of the immature Red Tailed Hawks that regularly come to Tompkins Square Park in the fall . This hawk hatched this spring and is still learning to hunt . This inexperienced and likely hungry hawk found a squirrel in the western most parts of TSP . The squirrel though was dead a few days as can be seen from all the maggots in its mouth .
The hawk found the squirrel in the area and had taken the dead and swollen squirrel to a perch in the Hari Krishna tree in the center of TSP . Whether the hawk found the rotting squirrel undesirable or just simply wasn't able to hang-on to the squirrel , it dropped it from the tree . The squirrel dropped and landed in front of two surprised boys .
Red Tailed Hawks typically eat carrion , preferably fresh such as road kill , but this squirrel was dead a bit too long a time we suspect to be desirable . We wonder here about how this squirrel died . The coat seemed in good condition and the squirrel appeared well fed . In TSP one has to consider the possibility of some exposed rat poison that could have been ingested by the squirrel . Not a good thing for either squirrel or hawk .

I haven't seen any of the older hawks around for a while--have you??
They fly by occaisionally for a quick snack of rat , pigeon or squirrel .
two days ago I saw a hawk outside my window ( 10th street between first and second)with a bird in its talons. A bunck of crows were swooping down and pecking at the hawk who held tight to the prey. after a struggle the hawk flew off holding onto the prey with the crows in angry pusuit. It was a sight to behold.I wonder if it could be the same hawk from Tomkins Square. It looked kind of unprofessional.
Incorrect! Red-tailed hawks are predators! Pure & simple. They hunt and kill their prey.

Vultures and condors, on the other hand, are scavengers. They always eat carrion.
No , Red Tailed hawks do eat carrion and in some individual cases do so quite often . Usually that carrion is fresh road kill, but not always .
In the case of the hawk here , the squirrel was dead for some time and we did see the hawk attempt a taste more than once.

A significant number of Red tailed hawks are killed while eating road kill on active highways by cars and trucks .
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