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The New Urbanism: Hawks in the Alleyways

My great Earth Day experience yesterday was watching a hawk wing through the  heavy spring snowstorm into a nesting box mounted on the third story of a town home wall across the alley from my kitchen window.

The hawk's nesting box mounted on the 3rd story of a town home wall.

Lately, in the last three weeks or so, we’ve been coming upon piles of pigeon feathers in various locations in our front and back yards. While our 16-year old cat has caught quite a few baby birds in her day, and even snagged one last summer (you go, girl!), she’s not as spry as she once was and, besides, she hasn’t spent a lot of time outside lately with all the snow. She was only 9 pounds at her peak fighting weight, and many pigeons and squirrels outweigh her to begin with, and her hunting was usually limited to baby rodents and baby birds.

A hawk pauses in our backyard tree with its prey.

So, we had assumed it was a coyote that was leaving the crime scenes as our neighborhood is built around a natural habitat corridor that weaves throughout the development and through several wildlife sanctuaries. We are several blocks in from the greenway, however, and don’t usually see those animals running down our street.

Then, last Friday, we saw a hawk clutching a hapless pigeon in his talons in the tree in our backyard and wondered where he lived. I saw another winging by down the alley shortly afterward, so I believed there was a nesting pair. Part of the mystery of the dead pigeons was solved, but where were they coming from?

Now I know. And when the snow stops falling, maybe I’ll be able to snap a picture of the birds entering this nesting box, like I spied yesterday  through my window.

I applaud our neighbors for cleverly mounting a nesting box: painted the same color as their trim and so camouflaged that I have looked out the  window above my kitchen sink for eight years and never noticed it. We’ve speculated on how (and when!) they hung it: Did they use a cherry picker? Did they repel down from the roof? Was it placed by the original builders? How did the hawks find it?

My husband snapped a picture on his iPhone as the hawk paused in our tree with his prey. Can you spot the big bird in our tree?

As urban homesteaders at heart, we are thrilled by the arrival of the hawks and look forward to getting the pigeon population under control.

Posted in: Living naturally

One Comment on “The New Urbanism: Hawks in the Alleyways

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