a hawk visits the library

A few days ago, some of the librarians and patrons here at CLP Main were lucky enough to catch a rare sight: a large, white and brown bird landed in one of the mulberry trees just outside of the main entrance, and proceeded to eat her lunch: a freshly caught squirrel. 

While we aren’t exactly expert bird-watchers, we do know where to look to identify a feathered creature, and our guess is that this particular bird is a juvenile red-tailed hawk. That might explain her unusual perch.  As WQED’s Kate St. John writes on her blog Outside My Window: A Bird Watcher’s View of the World, juvenile hawks can be boldly unruffled by human proximity when they’re hungry.  This particular hawk was equally blasé about the nearby humans, the below-freezing temperature, and the ferociously icy winds that stirred her feathers.

Because the mulberry tree is relatively short and very close to the building, the hawk’s position created the  opportunity to get very close to a truly impressive natural sight and take some photos! Lucky for us (but not for the squirrel). 

A caution, gentle readers, some of these shots are a little graphic.

juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel

juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel

juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel - lensflare

juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel - twisting tree

juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel - paparazzi

juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel 10

 juvenile red-tailed hawk with squirrel - eating

Happy New Year, everyone.  May you clobber the squirrelly troubles of the past year with clear-sightedness, feathery grace, and talon-sharp fierceness and internalize their lessons to fuel your flight in the year to come.



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5 responses to “a hawk visits the library

  1. Don

    Great work. Walking from Oakland to L’ville, I’ve twice seen similar scenarios – once a hawk with a blackbird in the big tree on the side of St. Paul’s and another time with a hawk pinning a pigeon on top of a phone pole on Main Street.

    Gentle reminders of where and who we are.


  2. Great photos of the hawk! Almost 2 years ago Mark Wolz sent me photos of a similar situation – a hawk eating on a Downtown street. People were stunned: http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2008/02/05/hawk-eats-hawk/

  3. Richard

    My two birding moments are as follows. A hawk or falcon (too far away to tell) noshing on a squirrel in Highland Park across from my house and freaking out every other bird for a 1/4 mile radius. They couldn’t stay still, and then all of them; crows, finches, cardinals, robins and whatever else was there flew off en-masse and the park became deathly quiet.
    The second experience was much more benign and light-hearted. Walking down Centre Ave. in Oakland just past the closed Giant Eagle (now that’s a Yinzer’s direction) I had to stop to allow the proverbial “old-lady” to cross the street. In this case though it was a gaggle of urban ducks; a mother and her ducklings (4 in all) waddling their way in “Make Way for Ducklings” nonchalance through one of the apartment building alleyways. Serendipity is a fortunate condition.

  4. Julie


    Thank you so much for sharing your candid photos and video, and for the felicitous new year blessing.


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