Bird Watcher's General Store

Hawks On the Way to Boston - 11/03/00


Dear Bird Folks,

I commute to Boston every week and I always see these big hawks just sitting perched along the highway. What kind of hawks could they be? Why are they just sitting and staring at cars?

-Billy, East Sandwich

Well Billy:

Those are city hawks. Keep your windows rolled up when you see one of those bad boys. Them birds is mean! They don't even eat regular rabbits, they eat Volkswagen Rabbits, driver and all.

Actually, what you saw was a red-tailed hawk. Red-tailed hawks are one of our largest common hawks. They are very stocky hawks with a chest that is lighter in color than most. Their robust chest has a slight speckling which forms a band or belt across the front of the birds. The signature red tail of the adults is best seen from the back.

Although it seems like the hawks are attracted to cars, they really are attracted to the mammals that feed along the side of the highway. Red Tails like to feed in open fields and the state helps them out be keeping a nice wide strip of grass open along the highways. Being a predator, Red-Tailed Hawks have very few friends, so they have nothing to do all day but sit for hours just waiting for a mammal to pop out of the woods. Hawks have superb vision and can easily see any prey that comes out to eat the fresh grass or to much on a forgotten bag of doughnuts that blew off the car roof of a fellow commuter.

Since Red-Tailed Hawks eat lost of rabbits and squirrels, many people want to know how they can get this hawk to come to their yard to chow down on a few rabbits that are in their garden of the squirrels that are on their feeder. All you have to do is convince the state to build a highway through the middle of your yard and the hawks are bound to come. And not only will you get rid of all the rabbits and squirrels, you'll also get the occasional forgotten bag of doughnuts.



Artwork by Catherine Clark


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