Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hawks and Batting Cage

Lake Creek Trail goes through the middle of the Town and Country playing fields. Near the east edge of Town and Country they have a couple batting practice cages, surrounded by black webbing. As I approached these two batting cages on the trail late this morning, I saw a Red-shouldered Hawk at the outside corner of one. It looked like it had a foot caught in the webbing because it would periodically try to fly away but one foot would pull on the webbing and bring it back down. But as I got closer I saw that it was sometimes walking around and both feet were free. Then I saw it was picking at something in the webbing with its bill, and grabbing it with its feet. I realized there was something in the webbing that it wanted to take away and eat.

Batting Cage Story

The Red-shouldered Hawk vocalized, seemingly in frustration that it couldn't carry away whatever was in the webbing. As I watched it pulled a piece off and swallowed it. You can see in the photo that it's the leg and foot of another bird:

Batting Cage Story

It finally flew away and I went over to where it was. Wrapped up on the other side of the webbing (inside the batting cage) was this dead White-winged Dove:

Batting Cage Story

When I looked in the batting cage I saw there was a messy pile of feathers, and then I saw there was another hawk inside the cage. It was this juvenile Cooper's Hawk:

Batting Cage Story

The Cooper's Hawk couldn't figure out how to get out of the batting cage. Two corners of the webbing were lifted up, but the hawk couldn't figure out that it had to go down to get out. Then I realized what must have happened. This Cooper's Hawk killed the White-winged Dove inside the batting cage. Somehow the dead dove ended up at the edge of the cage and the Cooper's Hawk got confused and was flying around trying to get out instead of eating the dove.

Then the Red-shouldered Hawk saw the dead dove, flew down, and tried to grab it. It could grab it, but it could not fly away with it since the dove was on the other side of the webbing!

I described this to a passing dog walker who didn't seem too impressed. I was confident that after we left and the area was calm, the Cooper's Hawk would find its way out.

Here's my complete eBird list. I couldn't find the Great Kiskadee found on Saturday, but I did find the first-year female Vermilion Flycatcher:

Vermilion Flycatcher


Ruthann said...

Very unusual observation! Yeah, when I tell nearby hikers my onsite snake stories that I just witnessed moments (coral snake eating a water snake), before they are never very impressed either.

Mikael Behrens said...

Too bad, but it's still better than not telling anyone!

Unknown said...

Great story! Definitely not something you see everyday! Thank you for sharing!

Susan Andres said...

Amazing story Mikael! Some of the photos above no longer are viewable. Someday you are going to have enough of these stories to write a nice book. Save them up and write down as much as you can in a journal.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks! The photos should be fixed.

Unknown said...

Scott was impressed! Glad you noticed this and took pictures.

Hiker-Cheryl said...

If you see me on the trail I am always interested in nature stories so please share. For anyone interested in what happened to the hawk trapped in the batting cage, I walked the trail with my dog this morning and all that remained were dove feathers.