Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A response to John Blakeman's comments about redtails' pigeon-catching techniques. It comes from Ben Cacace, frequent website correspondent and blogger in his own right. [Http://] In support of Ben's viewpoint I'd like to add that I too have seen Pale Male herding a flock of pigeons high over the Model-boat Pond and plucking one of them out in mid-air.


Thanks for posting the conclusion that Blakeman arrived at based on one person's observations of Red-tailed Hawks capturing pigeons.

Without watching urban Red-taileds I'm not sure how one can conclude that if a Red-tailed takes a pigeon this is probably the way it's done. This may perpetuate a partial truth for years to come, not that this is the worst thing in the world. There are so many already, including the one that the hawks don't drink water. I've seen this myself with a juvenile at the edge of the Central Park reservoir.

How many people have seen actual kills of pigeons by Red-taileds? Not many I would presume. I can only remember seeing this once. This happens to be the one on the documentary 'Pale Male' where P.M. follows a flock of pigeons and plunges in to take a bird from the air. Maybe this bird was perched in a tree but P.M. was plunging into the flock prior to the catch. I was there for this amazing display.

How many have seen attempts? Many! Only once can I recall seeing a Red-tailed using the technique described. This was from one of the Trump Parc Red-taileds. One was heading east along Central Park South and flew at a flock of perched pigeons on a rooftop using the buildings as cover. The pigeons didn't see the hawk coming. None were taken.

Recently a friend watched Lola grab a pigeon off a building using the building as a blind. She caught the pigeon but wasn't able to hold on to the bird.

I don't doubt this technique is used. How often and how successful it is would have to be determined by many observations of many kills by an assortment of hawks.

It might be even *more* fascinating. Each Red-tailed may have developed its own techniques. I would stress the plural. Each hawk not relying solely on the one mentioned in your latest post.

Thanks again for making me think about a fascinating subject.

Ben Cacace