I Witnessed A Killing in the Shaw Neighborhood!

IMG_7067, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m often taking photos of interesting lawn art/sculptures that are often animals. So as I was walking up 11th Street near R I wasn’t too stunned to see what I thought was some more lawn art. Alas, what I saw was very different. And I’m still a little shaken up so forgive me if I curse a little bit in recounting this experience. So I’m admiring this “art” when I think to myself this is really an odd spot to place the piece. At this point I notice some feathers flying and I think “hmm this is weird.” Then the “sculpture” turns its head towards me and I jump about 10 feet straight up in the air. Holy shit, that is a freaking HAWK. Yeah, you read correctly a hawk…on 11th Street! When I fell back down to the ground, I rubbed my eyes and took a closer look again. At this point the hawk is staring at me and I could easily see from it’s eyes that it was telling me to back the fuck up. And back up I did. You see at this point I saw that it was sitting on something and I was like “damn it’s a mom and is sitting on its babies.” Uh, no. That was not the case. The hawk had just killed a pigeon…on 11th Street. A hawk. Insane. After the jump are a couple more photos one with a better view of the recently deceased.

34 Comment

  • Nice shots. I often see one or sometimes two red-tail hawks like that one circling high above the trees and terrorizing other birds up here on the A-M/Mt.P border. Once saw feathers fluttering down from a tree and looked up to see a hawk plucking clean a pigeon (not sure if it was still alive). Recently saw two crows double-teaming on a hawk and driving it away.

  • Great job actually getting the feller on pixels! I saw a hawk once in DC a couple years ago downtown (on Independence Avenue somewhere, I think) take out a squirrel. I was far enough away that I didn’t fear for my own safety but was as surprised as you to see that part of the circle of life in DC. The guy flew from a lamppost an nabbed a squirrel on the ground in about two seconds. Pretty cool.

  • I think I’ve seen one of them around Spring Street. This is the awesome thing about living near Rock Creek Park — all kinds of critters will come up from time to time. DC has pretty good green space.

    Great shots.

  • If we could only get them to hunt the rats at night.

  • ha, funny that you put this up today…..I was in my back yard on Randolph st yesterday afternoon when I saw an almost identical hawk fly directly down the alley. quite an impressive sight.

  • I live on 10th & R and I think this hawk (hawks have impressive ranges) is the one that likes to hang out on the tall tree in our neighbor’s backyard. It also likes to swoop down on the pigeons that hang out on the church behind our house. I’ve been wondering what type of hawk it was, but it has always been to far away to definitely say what kind it is. Now with this clear picture, I will be able to find it in my bird book! (Yes, I’m a nerd) Thank you PoP!

  • Am I the only one who is hearing “Welcome to the Jungle” in my head as a score to this documentary of predator/prey relationships in the city?? I am? Oh….

  • There is a red tailed hawk that hangs out in a little park near my office between the DAR and the White House. There used to be a rodent problem in this area. Now we have a fat hawk and rarely see rats any more. At least not the four legged ones.

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  • Hrmm… I think the most logical next step is the creation of a neighborhood sponsored falconer program. Pest & Purse Dog control…. niiiiice.

  • I was standing on the corner of 17th and K during lunch time and spotted a hawk ten feet above me in a tree. As I was looking at the raptor, a homeless man says to me, “can you believe a red-tail hawk is downtown? Must have come down from the park.”

    No one else even noticed, just me and the homeless man. Pretty cool.

  • I retract my prior statement it has been brought to my attention that Falconing/Hawking is illegal in DC & Hawaii… that is unless there is popular support for an underground falconing movement. Viva la resistance.

  • If it makes you feel better, I saw a young hawk swoop down on a pigeon by the mall, and it was mobbed by the pigeons and took off in defeat. Also spotted at the zoo, an owl intent on the prairie dog exhibit (since modified).

    Also wanted to mention there is a gorgeous young brindel pitbull mix at the Washington Animal Rescue League. I have walked him and he is sweet and dog friendly. go to
    http://www.warl.org and look for Wish

  • It looks more like a Coopers hawk or a Sharp-shinned hawk, which I think are more common in urban areas. The Coopers apparently kill their prey by repeatedly squeezing it with its feet. Strong toes.

  • I live on Newton Street in ColHeigh. I was talking to a contractor who was cleaning up one of the abandoned blgds here and he told me there was a hawk living inside. He let it get out before he boarded up all the windows. A couple of days later, I saw the same thing you did, but on my roof (happened to be in the attic then). Looks like your guy!

  • I saw one on Otis Place a few weeks ago, I think he’d just come from the House.

  • I live iin rural Indiana and we have a breeding pair of these hawks that use our fallow pastures as hunting grounds. They also love to hunt the bull frogs in our pond. It is about 40 feet from the front of the house so I get some excellent shots of the hawks hunting. The reeds and weeds around the pond (we do NOT clip the edge of the water, which keeps Canada geese off the lawn) are full of mice and voles. We do have mourning doves and rock dove (pigeons) but our hawks do not hunt them.
    Sometimes the red shouldered hawks will be perched ON the bird feeders with lots of little birds just feet away eating the dropped seeds. They actually keep away the smaller hawks like sharp shinned, Cooper’s, and kestrels.
    And drewlove, you needs owls for night hunting. You can even hear the whisper of their wings in the winter as they glide over the pastures at night.

    It is really nice to know they are making their way back in their old hunting grounds. Thanks for the photos!

  • Riding my bike to work early a.m. on the Ellipse parking driveway, I came upon striking/sad tableau: a screech owl had just been run over, as had its intended prey – a small rat

  • So, according to my bird book it is a Cooper’s Hawk [nod to CoryB]. From the Smithsonian Handbooks, “Birds of North America”:

    “The bird most likely to steal poultry off farms. Cooper’s Hawk is the true chicken hawk that small family farmers have called the Blue Darter. It is named after William Cooper… Attacks poultry, other birds, small mammals and takes songbirds out of nest…Sometimes carries prey to water and kills it by drowning. [ooh, vicious!]”

    Sweet. Now only if I can catch a glimpse of the notorious “throwsdogshitinmytrashcan” species I will be set for life.

  • I’m not so sure that it’s a Coopers Hawk. This one’s tail doesn’t seem that long, though it’s hard to tell from the photos.

  • I recently saw a hawk (red-tailed, I think…about 3 weeks ago) killing something (pigeon?) in a patch of ivy on 19th St. in between California and Wyoming in Kalorama. And then I thought it was going to attack me. Someone should make a Google Maps mashup of hawk killings in the neighborhood. It’s pretty rad. And yes, I think they should be trained to kill rats at night.

  • We caught a similar sight while leaving The Argonaut on H Street a few days ago. It was twilight,s o we didn’t see much, but the hawk hopped a fence and that caught our attention. It too was making a pigeon. All in all, I’m fine with that since pigeons fall firmly in the “They’ll make more” category. Last summer, I also saw two young hawks perching in the trees in front of the Native American Museum. Like other, I thought it sad how few others noticed them. And here at home, there is at least one hawk that circles the house with frequency. It’s chilling and thrilling to hear a hawk cry while you are out in the yard in NE DC.

  • Thinking it’s a kestrel here. Pretty small bird. Very cool photos…I live at 11th & Q so I’ll keep an eye out for this bird.

  • I think the bird’s name is Donald. Drat, he’s a hawk, not a falcon. Oh well, it still makes me think of The Falconer skit from SNL.

  • sophiagirl – I saw one of those hawks you mention in front of the Native American Museum catch a mouse in a tiny triangle of weeds along independence/Maryland….I would have liked to see the mouse scurry across all those lanes of concrete to GET to the traffic median….

  • Saw a hawk snacking on a mouse or something in front of an office building on K Street between 13th and 14th streets, NW, a few weeks ago. Attracted quite a crowd. The hawk seemed somewhat puzzled by the attention but otherwise concentrated on eating its lunch.

  • Wow–I thought all the chickenhawks in this town worked in the White House–nice job finding one feral, PoP!

  • We saw a Cooper’s Hawk catch a rat in broad daylight when we lived at 14th and Mass. It stayed in the branches near our condo for over an hour, long enough for us to get our binoculars and bird books and be relatively certain it was a Cooper’s. Pretty cool!

  • It’s a Cooper’s Hawk. Nice photos!

  • He was sitting on the corner of the apartment building at the corner of 14th and harvard on friday squaking at a seagull.

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  • I have seen this same Hawk in front of my job on 7th & Penn. eating a pigeon in a tree. I actually have pictures.

  • With all the wooded areas around DC (Rock Creek Park, Seneca Park, Sligo Creek, etc) I am surprised by everyone being surprised to see wild animals in DC. Admittedly, I was taken aback by the sight of a coyote on Military Road at 16th but I see deer, raccoons, woodchucks, possums, chipmunks, hawks and black vultures pretty often up here in Brightwood. Also, the ducks and Canadian geese all over the city.

    When I lived in Cathedral Hgts. I used to see the night-herons flying by over the roof deck very late at night. The look like giant, winged ghosts. Seems like hundreds of them hang out in the trees near the Bird House in the Zoo during the day.

    There’s lots of wildlife to be seen if you look around.

    “This comment was sponsored by Mutual of Omaha”

  • Nothing beats the bald eagle I saw flying above the USDA building about 2 springs ago. That was rad.

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