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maryco maryco is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Durham region, Ontario, Canada
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Hawks and pigeons..


Hello all,

I have a question about a hawk, hopefully someone more familiar with them can answer my question..

Since last year I've been seeing hawks in my area, once I saw a young hawk stuck in a tree with no leaves on it (that was in the winter so I could clearly see him) another time I saw one sitting on the highway sign as we live right by the highway and I even saw 2 large ones flying very high when I was in the car with my mom coming home from shopping.

About 3 weeks ago my sisters and I were sitting in the living room when my youngest sister saw pigeon tail feathers fall from a balcony above us.. They were just slowly falling down and that caught her attention, then all of a sudden all the pigeons (about 15-20) pigeons on my balcony flew away very quickly, 2 seconds later this HUGE brown hawk flew down onto our balcony from the balcony above, my sister screamed and then my other sister screamed as well and so I quickly looked over and I saw this BIG bird!!
It was very frightening ... I've never seen a hawk this close up and I was sitting at the table near the window, the hawk looked around and then stretched his big wings and flew away..

Just yesterday I was sitting at the window in my sisters' room and I had Dotty on my lap giving him a head massage..
Dotty gave out this grunt and I know he does that when the cat comes into my room so he warns Pearl and she puffs up.
Anyway I then saw from the corner of my eye this large brown bird flying over by the large pine trees and 3 pigeons quickly flying around the trees and back up onto the building, then the hawk

[ OMG!! Just this minute as I was tying this my sisters were screaming like crazy from the room, It was HIM AGAIN, Same place but under the tree picking at the breastbone of the pigeon that he ate yesterday on the tree.. Now my sisters say he just flew away and they see him up on the tip of tree watching all the pigeons ]

Anyway what happened yesterday was that the hawk sat on the tree and after 15 minutes we finally figured out that he had a pigeon under his foot, Thank God the pigeon was dead so he didn't have to suffer so much

We watched him groom himself for another half hour then he started plucking the bird all the feathers went everywhere, then he ..... you know

It was just horrible to watch but that is nature..

Can someone tell me what kind of hawk this is.. I will describe him:
He is kind of medium size (He is not the one who was on our balcony as that one was all brown and very very large) this one has a brown head, white triangle on his chest, the rest of his tummy is cream with brown dots and he has brown on his wings with some darker brown markings and a squarish long tail.

I live in Southern Ontario but I don't know what kinds of hawks we have here..

My flock is so very scared now, I have pigeons without tails and one baby who even got injured (I believe by the hawk) under one wing was a big hole with blood and she sadly died while under surgery at the wildlife centre

From what it looks like we must have quite afew hawks here, are they migrating or something or will they be around for good?

Mary




[This message has been edited by maryco (edited February 06, 2004).]


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Mary
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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Age: 44
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Hi Mary, Can you describe this hawk in a little more detail? How big compared to say a crow or a pigeon? Is it a heavy looking hawk or more slender? Short wings or longer ones? From what you've said so far, it sounds like a coopers hawk, which would also explain why it's been able to capture pigeons in your neighbourhood. We have a lot of red tailed hawks around here which sound like the "bigger" bird you described. Fortunately, they are not really bird eaters and are usually too slow to capture a pigeon. They only way they generally capture other birds is strictly by surprise attack. Coopers on the other hand are FAST. They use the element of surpise as well like most preditors but this hawk also has speed to back it up if it finds itself pursuing a pigeon over distance.

Brad
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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 09:28 AM
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Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
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It's actually really amazing that pigeons so instinctively recognize hawks as preditors. As you know, I have runt pigeons who have NEVER been outside of a coop, born and raised in the security of a coop and never have been chased by one. However, my birds as well instantly recognize "danger" when they see a hawk. I've had a few hang around the yard on occasion. No doubt, with their keen eyes see my birds through the glass doors in my basement and hang around waiting to see if they can score a quick meal. When my birds see a hawk in the backyard, I can ALWAYS tell what is up. They freeze and grunt like you described Dotty doing. Pretty amazing actually that without any prior knowledge or experience or being taught by parents, they KNOW that they are to be feared.


Brad
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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 10:37 AM
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I personally think hawks are amazing birds. I hate to see the killing they do but we all know it is nature. Last summer in my backyard I witnessed a coopers hawk attempt a surprise attack on a mourning dove feeding in the bird feeder. It was truly amazing to see and even more astonishing was the fact that I was just there are the right time. I was peering down into my back yard from a 2nd story window and watching the doves feed when all of a sudden a blur literally came straight down out of the sky in a stoop. It was really to quick to see but the mourning dove saw the coopers and in an instant, was airborn and flew wide open into the field behind my house. The coopers hawk pursued tenaciously but not for long because but he knew he was beat. Mourning doves are one of the fastest flying members of the pigeon family. The coopers chased him for about 300 metres but then cried uncle. Mourning doves have been known to fly as fast and even faster than the best racing pigeons, upwards of 65mph. I've witnessed regular street pigeons maintaining just over 60mph flying along side my car on the highway... fast birds and only the weak or the unwary generally fall prey to attacks from the sky.


Brad
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Reti Reti is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 11:18 AM
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Country: United States
Location: Miami,Fl
Age: 51
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Hi Mary and Brad,
I live in Miami,Fl, and the same hawk you described I saw last year on the tree in front of my building and I lost 3 pigeons to him. My husband calls them turkey vultures. I am not sure though if that's what they are called. I looked it up in a book I have nad it describes them as young hawks with that type of coloring (cream colored bellies with brown dots. As they mature they turn all brown and their size is impressive. This year we have tons of them down here.
They will hang around as long as they have food. This year I replace my pigeon's eggs with dummy eggs, I just can't stand losing another baby.
As Brad said, my hand raised indoors pigeons just recognize the hawks and grunt whenever they see them through the window. I guess they are born with that instinct.
Reti

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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 11:28 AM
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Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
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Hi Reti, I'm doubtful that the birds that your husband calls "turkey vultures" are culprits of anything short of scavenging. Turkey vultures are just that...vultures. They are members of the raptor family but do not attack or kill living prey. Rather they feast on dead or dying animals, hence their name. Turkey vultures are in your area and I've seen them here up in Canada in the summer as well. They are large birds, just over 2 feet long and with a wing span of almost 6 feet. Young hawks and turkey vultures are not the same thing. You have no need to worry about your pidgies if you see a "turkey Vulture" around

Brad
maryco maryco is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 06:29 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Durham region, Ontario, Canada
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Hello Brad and Reti!

Thanks for replying and sorry I didn't anwer earlier..


Yes Brad, I checked out some pics of red tailed hawks and I think that is the big one that I saw.. as for the small one it's probably a young cooper or something else..
It's very scary to see, Earlier this afternoon I saw him twice up on the tip of a pine tree and on one building then on another, all the pigeons were flying around in the sky for a long time and he just stood at the tip of the building watching them (I could see his head moving around)

This hawk I saw is kind of small, I don't know if he is a juvi or an adult but as I said he is medium, bigger than a crow (much bigger) his wings don't fold onto his body well, yesterday he looked very nice but today he looked kind of scruffy, maybe becuase of the rain? The feathers around his thighs are just cream, I noticed that today. He has long legs and a long tail as well, when he flies his wings are very rounded unlike a sea gull or pigeon, the wings are brown on the top with darker brown stripes... He has a very beautiful white triange on his neck, his head is brown with some darker feathers like the tops of his wings.. I have some pics but I don't think they are very clean, I couldn't take any today because the battery ran out and my sister was recharging it, I can try to send them to you if they turn out good..

I just can't believe it, I told my aunt the story when she came over on monday and just yesterday she called and said she saw a hawk on her balcony as well (she lives on the really high floors in a condo building)
She never seen a hawk in her area although she does have some pigeons who visit and a baby grew up there 2 years ago.

Vultures in Ontario, I can't believe it.. I love vultures, They look like mean birds to some people but I don't know I just like them.. Crows as well are beautiful and so smart

So if this big large hawk won't eat pigeons all the time what does he eat? Squirrels.. Little birds?

I just remembered seeing a hawk attack a starling last year, a whole flock of starlings were eating on the grass in the park and this hawk came down and grabbed a starling.. It was sad to watch.


Mary




[This message has been edited by maryco (edited February 06, 2004).]
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Mary
maryco maryco is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 06:36 PM
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Oh yeah and about the pigeons sensing them, it's amazing.. I noticed that Pearl is very sensitive these days and will get nervious when she looks out the window and hears the flock from the balcony quickly fly away, I think she senses the hawk and maybe even sees him high in the sky sometimes when I don't notice...

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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 06:44 PM
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Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
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Hey Mary,

The "large" hawk we are talking about, which is probably a red tail, yes, they are mammal eaters mostly. Their diet consists of mice, rabbits, yes SQUIRRELS, and any small warm blooded animal they can capture and dispatch without too much fuss. Red tail hawks are very cool birds. I did a science project on them in grade 5. Taxidermist stuffed hawk and all! Yes Mary we have turkey vultures here in Canada but they are seasonal migrants here. They love to ride the "thermals" and basically are scavengers of the more southern regions but in the summer, they migrate up here because of the temperate climate and expanded territory offered to them during summer. All vultures and condors are preditory/raptors but they lack the speed, strength and agility to overcome live prey, therefore they are carrion consumers


Brad
maryco maryco is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 06:49 PM
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Location: Durham region, Ontario, Canada
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That was a quick reply

Aha! That would explain why I have so many pigeons with no tails, to me it looks like this "big" hawk is not very good at catching pigeons..

Vultures are just beautiful, I don't think I'll see them here in the city of Toronto..

Mary

[This message has been edited by maryco (edited February 06, 2004).]
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Mary
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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 06:56 PM
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And yes Mary, you're right...Pearl probably sees the hawks all the time when you dont see them. My pigeons never stop amazing me with their keen vision. I'm SURE it must be comparable to that of the predators that stalk them. I've watched my birds freeze and watch the skies when I can't see anything. Then, upon VERY close inspection and scrutiny, I will see what they are looking at. Pigeons are like gazelles are to cheetahs. It's the constant evolutionary battle of preditor Vs. Prey and they see every bit as good as the birds that hunt them....their survival depends upon it.


Brad
maryco maryco is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 07:00 PM
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Location: Durham region, Ontario, Canada
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WOW!
You must have a very 'wild' back yard

That is also amazing about the mourning doves, I never knew they were so fast!

I've been searching on images at google.com but I can't seem to find any hawk with that white triange on his chest, I see spotted bodies and same wing colouring but no white triange..

Mary



[This message has been edited by maryco (edited February 06, 2004).]
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Mary
maryco maryco is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 07:17 PM
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I found it!!!

I believe I've identified the hawks as both being Red tail hawks,,

Here is a pic, http://www.peregrine-foundation.ca/raptors/idb1.html

The top one is an adult and looks like the one I saw on the balcony, the little one below is just like the one I saw this morning and yesterday eating the pigeon in the tree, so he is a youngster, Note the white triangle on their chests as well!

Mary
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Posted 6th February 2004, 07:21 PM
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Hey Mary, there are many different "phases" of the red tail hawk during different maturity levels and even geographical regions. Keep in mind that no matter what, young or old, red tails are pretty large birds, 1/3 larger than a crow at most times. They appear "heavy" and sturdy. They would easily seem to be 3 times the size of a pigeon. Young coopers hawks look just like the juvenile red tail, only slimmer, longer tailed and only about the size of a smaller crow.


Brad
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Pigeonpal2002 Pigeonpal2002 is offline
Posted 6th February 2004, 07:50 PM
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Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
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The best way to "Field" a bird is by comparing it to other birds of known size. Whether in flight or perched. A typical red tailed hawk is about 19-25 inches long...with a wingspan of 4 feet (48 inches). A large crow would only be about 19-20 inches long with a typical wingspan of about 36 inches or 3 feet. An average pigeon is about 13 inches long with a wingspan of about 25-26 inches. The best way to judge birds in the field is by comparing them to other birds that you are familiar with ie: a robin or a bluejay, crow or gull. It's hard to make a positive identification when birds are at a distance or in flight but using guides like this, will help.

Brad
 

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dummy eggs, feral pigeon, hawk attack, mourning dove, pet pigeon, racing pigeon, tail feathers, wild bird, wildlife centre


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