The Hawk: Urban pest control

May 23, 2007 | By | 5 Replies More

I was drilling titanium in my basement when my wife called me up to see what the grackles in our sycamore were complaining about. I barely had time to grab my camera and get a snapshot before he gave up on his latest kill, a pigeon lying in the street. After he flew the proverbial coop, I bagged and disposed of the abandoned meal. Hopefully the hawk (my snapshot below) has learned not to drop his kills in the street.
Hawk over Shenandoah Avenue

Since the hawk population down here in the city has risen, I see fewer pigeons, and more doves and gold-finches.

I’m a big believer in benign environmental management. Our lily pond is clear because I leave it alone to reach a balance, not because I use a dozen products to try to match some particular theoretical water quality profile. My way, we have dragonflies. Their ravenous larvae greatly reduce our mosquito population, before they take wing. The bats help with the adult mosquitoes, and are fun to watch at night.

We also have a yard cat that largely keeps the squirrels away from our produce, and teaches the birds caution. He generally eats what he kills. There is some collateral damage. Sometimes he gets a koi snack. But the surviving fish are that much harder to catch.

I just hope that the bird flu doesn’t preferentially decimate the raptors, when (not if) it sweeps this way. Hawks and eagles are nice to have around.

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Category: Environment, photography, Whimsy

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (5)

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    If you like bats, you can buy or build bat houses to attract them to your backyard. Plans for do-it-yourself units can be found on the Internet, as can finished units you can buy.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    The problem with bat houses is getting the guano you need to attract bats to the new location. I know people who have put up bat houses years ago, in the recommended location but without the bait, so still no bats.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Bat houses are open at the bottom…where does one put the guano?

    BTW, that is a remarkable photo of that hawk. Where I live, hawks are *very* shy, and will fly away long before one can get close enough for such a picture (absent a long telephoto lens, of course…or, I suppose, its dinner lying in the street).

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    Bat guano goes on the ground below the bat house, just where bats will deposit it before each flight. It's one consideration about where one chooses to place the house.

    As I mentioned in the responses to my moon shot, I have a lightweight, stabilized, super-zoom camera. The hawk was taking off from the rooftop 3 houses down the street.

  5. Tim Hogan says:

    I've been fortunate to see kestrels, Cooper hawks, foxes, racoons, everpresent chipmunks (we had been feeding one on our deck and a cooper hawk swooped down over a juniper tree and flew off with the chipmunk my kids called "chip"), deer and one coyote in my neighborhood, along with many birds. We heard an owl two weeks ago but, didn't see it.

    Several weeks ago I heard a crow for the first time in a while. I had heard that the West Nile virus had decimated the crow population in the St. Louis area and more than 99% of the birds had died. I didn't see two crows, which before I had always seen. My kids and I used to feed fruit and leftover wafffles and pancakes to the crows at our old house. There were two birds which were particularly large and which we had called "King" and "Queen", which came when we "cawed" from our back deck. The virus hit, we didn't see them anymore and we moved. My kids miss their "crow friends" and tried to caw the new bird to our yard but, it moved on as though looking for something.

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