10 September 2013

Cooper's Hawk Focused Upon Urban Pigeon Prey

While bicycling about downtown Omaha on Sunday morning, September 8th, a surprising observation was a Cooper's Hawk holding down a captured Rock Pigeon on the sidewalk of 15th street. The lesser bird wasn't moving and the hawk was seemingly successful in its capture.

Suddenly the hawk — due to the approaching pedestrian — carried the pigeon up into a nearby tree, apparently to eat it as breakfast.

The man yelled excitedly about seeing a hawk and its prey. It certainly isn't a regular event among the buildings of this metropolis.

However, within moments, the pigeon fell from the tree, landing seemingly intact, and having survived the sharp talons. It started walking about, and the raptor, obvious in the tree, was gazing downward at what had been within its grasp.

The pigeon walked around while the hawk was keeping a close look at it, from more than one perch. My view was intent upon how the hawk would respond.

The pigeon obviously could not fly, as it made no effort to do so, instead just walking around a small area, preening its feathers a little.

The hawk was watching it intently, while the raptor was also being closely watched.

A short time later, the hawk flew from the branch to the metal barriers for outside seating for a place at Hotel Deco, at the northwest corner of 15th and Harney Streets.

A short time later, the pigeon continued to walk, and eventually went around the corner. Once it was gone from view the predatory bird flew in the same direction, and landed upon a tree branch which provided a suitable view, though it was on the opposite side of the downtown street.

Perhaps, being a young bird, it was uncertain how to respond to what may have been a new experience. Rather than being aggressive, it was tentative.

After bicycling about to look for bird-strike instances, both birds were again seen on south 16th Street, near the corner bus stop and its trash. The pigeon was on the sidewalk and the hawk above on a tree branch. Both had moved more than a block from where they had initially been found.

The raptor sat in the tree while a pedestrian and dog ambled along below. He had no idea that this predator/prey saga was unfolding.

The pigeon kept close to the building facade. Another pedestrian noted the hawk and asked: "Is it okay?" she said. The hawk was certainly okay, but still pondering how to eat a pigeon. The stand-off went on for at least ten minutes, until my departure.

The final outcome is not known for this bird saga on the streets of downtown Omaha. It certainly added some excitement to the morning!