Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Where The Wild Things Are

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.


  1. While that's a great photo, I hate to hear the outcome of the story.

    On a different and happier note, around here we have an small owl that shares burrows with prairie dogs. When they have young in the next in the spring, you can often see them sitting in the top of the burrows with the hatchlings. They're shy and hard to photograph, though.