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Saturday I headed down to Prospect Park, hoping for a some hot Redpoll action. No luck with that, but the hawks, on the other hand…

The Northern Goshawk is normally a passerby at best in Prospect Park. But recently, a juvenile bird has been hanging around the park for an extended period of time, hassling the local songbirds and getting hassled in turn by the resident Red-tails.

Now it appears that s/he has a friend. While I stood by the lake, looking at another couple of dozen Goldfinches-that-weren’t-Pine-siskins, a large raptor cruised over and busted up the party before landing in a nearby tree. I got my binoculars on it, and sure enough, Goshawk. Not a big surprise. But then I saw a big bird-shaped lump just at the corner of my vision, panned over to that… another Goshawk! Pretty freaking cool. I wonder if this one will stick around too?

But that wasn’t even the coolest thing I saw on Saturday, oh no.

While I was walking up the Lullwater trail, I noticed a Mourning Dove just ahead of me. I gave it the once-over to make sure it really was a Mourning Dove and not anything more unusual, and a twice-over to appreciate the subtle brown color, and then continued on my merry way. The dove shuffled to one side as I passed, then changed its mind and fluttered up to go elsewhere.

This was a bad plan, as was vividly demonstrated mere moments later when a large Red-Tailed Hawk shot directly over my head and nailed the dove in mid-air. Half my brain immediately went “Oh shit! Sorry little dove!” and the other half my brain went “Oh shit! That was so cool!”

Sadly, I didn’t have a camera with me, but I got to spend the next twenty minutes watching the hawk meticulously pluck and eat its prey. Not something you see every day. A couple of other folks stopped to watch as well. (Although the couple with the itsy-bitsy offleash yorkie didn’t, which was a pity, because maybe they would have learned that their dog is entree-sized and should stick close by!)

So, two year birds (Northern Goshawk and Snow Goose) plus a little Wild Kingdom action… another good day. Oh, and then there was the bright male Baltimore Oriole that cropped up near the Vale. I was not expecting that at all, in December.

P.S. Why didn’t anyone tell me that I had the Latin names for Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail transposed? Now I’m going to have to come up with a new mnemonyic and everything.

Rock Dove Columba livia
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Fox Sparrow Passella iiaca
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Mourning Dove Zenaide macroura
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricappilus
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristic
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
American Coot Fulica atra
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
American Black Duck Anas rubripes
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
Bufflehead Bucephela albeola
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Common Grackle Quicalus quiscula
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus