In our town, there are some raptor cages at the back of the high school. My son attends a preschool at the high school. So, in the mornings when it's not too cold, the birds are out in the enclosures. There is a permanent resident, a Kestrel named Hayley. And, they usually rotate a larger raptor with other wildlife rehabilitators. This year we have a barred owl named Scout.
We had an exciting moment last week. As we drove around the corner, we spotted a wild Cooper's hawk, perched atop the kestrel enclosure. I joked about "cousin Coop" coming for a visit. But, I knew in reality the larger hawk was looking for a meal. Technically, Cooper's hawks are falcons - short wings, long tail and they primarily prey on other birds and even bats, sometimes. It didn't surprise me that they would go after a kestrel.
I did not want to spook away the Cooper's hawk by opening the car door, so I put down the passenger window and took an awkward photo with my cell phone.
I only had a brief glimpse but I did not see the kestrel flying around in a panic and I didn't hear any distress, though I wasn't close, either.
But hey - neat photo and the kestrel was safe in her enclosure.
I posted this photo to the Science Center Facebook page, thinking they would enjoy it. They asked me for my phone number to ask some questions.
I got the call this morning.
Hayley the kestrel was found dead in her pen on Sunday. *sad face*
She was a healthy little bird, and now they think the hawk might have harassed her into fatally harming herself in the pen. Autopsy pending.
Before this, the only suspect was a house cat that comes around and might have induced the bird into a similar panic.
Sad, but I'm glad I could shed light on their mystery.