A Walk on the Wild Side: The Hawk's Breakfast

As I got off the expressway at the exit for my workplace on Thursday morning, I spotted a hawk having a hearty breakfast of pigeon under the I-99 underpass.

I parked my car quickly at my workplace, and walked to a spot at the edge of our parking lot overlooking the hawk to see what I could see. And I had a pretty decent view, so I snapped a few photos from there.

And then I went into the office, dropped off my stuff, warmed up my hands (yet another single-degrees-F chilly morning), and walked back out maybe a half-hour later to see if the hawk was still there.

Not only was the hawk there, but a taxi was parked nearby, and the bird still seemed totally oblivious. I can only imagine what a great view that taxi driver had of the hawk's feast!

A pair of red-tailed hawks hang out around the building where I work, so I initially thought it might be one of them. However, some helpful friends identified this hawk as a Cooper's hawk. (More info here about Cooper's hawks.)

It is fascinating to observe the food chain in action. While I do sometimes feel badly for the prey, and while death is never pretty, I understand that hawks also need to eat. And so I observed with interest as the hawk pecked at the pigeon's body, removing its feathers and spitting them out, before continuing its feast. (Note the feather in the bird's mouth in this shot, as well as the egg, presumably removed from the pigeon, lying off to the left.)

The Monday after Thanksgiving last year, I had the amazing opportunity to watch a hawk eat a squirrel on campus. I was able to get about six to twelve feet from that bird, it was so intent on its meal. While I wasn't very close at all to the hawk this time (thank you, super zoom, for bringing it to me!), it was still pretty amazing to watch.

That's one of the things that I love about where I live, in central Pennsylvania. You may think that you're in civilization, but then you take one step to the left or one step to the right, and suddenly you are off the beaten path, taking a walk on the wild side. And so it was on this day.

The soundtrack: Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side.

Sign in or get an account to comment.