Saturday, February 14, 2009

Urban Hawking at its Finest!

Today was urban hawking at its finest. The kill was just too funny.

We had just had a slip at some sparrows feeding near some bushes in a shopping center, she had missed and landed on a parked car. I was trying to call her back to the fist as I walked toward her and usually she's pretty quick at coming back but this time she was bobbing her head and looking off into the distance.

Suddenly she launches off the top of the parked car heading toward these two girls (15-16ish) walking along the sidewalk. She's done some odd things before, like almost landing on a lady's head once, so I had no idea what she was up to but she was headed for them like a bat outta hell. They were about 50 yards away from where she launched and walking no more than a foot apart. Dulci was on a collision course but at the last second her wings went vertical and she slid through the tiny gap right in between the two girls! It looked like something out of a Starwars movie!

The girls flipped out, they kicked their legs in the air and screamed "AHHHHH BIRD!!!" She picked off the sparrow about 10 feet in front of them! I don't know if she was using the girls for cover as she approached or what but it was pretty amazing to see her split the uprights like that. Words don't do the girls' reaction justice.

I didn't know she'd caught something so I was chuckling to myself as I jogged over wondering what the heck that was about then I heard the sparrow squeaking and saw Dulci finishing it off.

"Did she get it?" I asked as I ran up to the girls.

"Is that YOUR bird?!?" they asked.

"Yup, sorry she freaked you out" *chuckle*

"Yeah, she got it..."

And they continued on their way. I gathered Dulci up, took her over to where my car was parked and let her feed up as I took some pics with my real camera that I happen to remember this time (rather than the last few that have been with my cell phone). If only I'd been able to have film that flight! Not one that I'll easily forget though, I was laughing all the way home!


Albert A Rasch said...


Now, if you could get the bird in focus, instead of the glove... ;)

None the less, great story, and fantastic acrobatics!

Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Brenda L. said...

How I would have loved to have been one of those girls! Imagine, having a kestrel zoom right in front of your face like that, and then seeing her grab a sparrow.

Sounded like quite an experience! I'm glad she caught her sparrow!

Isaac Nichols said...

Albert: Dang auto focus! Doesn't it know what's important?? ;-) I'm a falconer, not a photographer, what can I say!

Brenda: As a falconer I'm always on the lookout for those types of moments. I'm amazed at how much of the natural world seems to pass people by just because they're not looking. I've watched all sorts of wild birds of prey catch stuff in crowded areas where it looked as if everyone else was oblivious to the drama playing out so close to them.

Keep an eye out and I'm sure you can witness the same type of event. If you've got bird feeders in your backyard you may not even have to leave your house! (Although I advocate getting out as much as possible...:-)

Brenda L. said...

Issac: My eyes are actually more on the sky and trees than the ground! I've tripped as a result multiple times :D

Despite this, I've seen raptors very infrequently. Sadly, it seems that no matter how vigilant I am, I never quite get to see them. A few memorable experiences, though, include a peregrine chasing pigeons around a skyscraper. As you mentioned, no one else seemed to notice this fast bird zooming around!

Another time, I saw a red-tailed hawk come about an inch from flying into the side of a reflective building. It stopped right at the last second, though, and soared away.

Oddly enough, on highway trips, I can spot red-tails sitting in trees almost instantly, but I'll completely miss important highway signs! Some sort of strange programming in my brain, I suppose. :)

Isobael said...

Awesome! Hehehehe...I can just picture their reactions too.

They're going to have a hell of a story to tell their friends about.

Dolan said...

Isaac, great story. I agree with the other comments. It is amazing how much goes by us without anyone noticing. Great post!
Harris' Hawk blog

Dolan said...

Great story!. It is always amazing to me how much people don't see. I sometimes toss my harris' out of the car window at crows, and the people around me don't even notice.

Your post made me laugh. Nice one.
Doug's Harris' Hawk Blog

PBurns said...

Mr. Burns says "Exxxcccccellent!"