"Pigeon Hawk" & Our Very Own Guard Grouse

An Unusual “Pigeon Hawk”

A man holds a Northern Goshawk. A portrait of a Northern Goshawk. (photo © Emilie Chen via the Flickr Creative Commons)

Northern Goshawk, with human for scale.
(photo © Emilie Chen via the Flickr Creative Commons)

Early in the winter of 1980-81, avid birder Olive Rhines and I got calls from Al Daloz inviting us to come over to see his “Pigeon Hawk” (the former name of the small falcon now called a Merlin). Al kept his old mill complex at the east end of Tannery Hill Road in Hancock in good working order, and on the mill pond and in the barn he kept a variety of ducks. The “Pigeon Hawk” turned out to be much larger than a Merlin — it was an adult Goshawk (!) that had obviously dashed into the barn in hopes of a duck dinner.

In the breeding season, this largest of the true hawks is considered quite a force to deal with (ask a forester), but during that deep freeze, Al had somehow summarily subdued the hungry hawk and stuffed it into a large Havahart trap. The next morning, we released the gorgeous Goshawk, apparently in good spirits, a few miles away at the Harris Center. I like to think it left in search of squirrels rather than Daloz ducks, but I’m not so sure!

Grouse on Guard

A Ruffed Grouse. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

It’s best not to mess with this grouse!
(photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

And now, another feathered tale, lifted almost verbatim from the Spring 1990 Harris Hearsay director’s report:

Despite mild complaints from mail carrier Carol Lane and a few others attempting to get to the Harris Center, we are quite proud of our resident “guard grouse.” Whether it’s all the Earth Day comings and goings, or the tension around the ConVal District budget deliberations, this Ruffed Grouse seems to have his feathers permanently ruffled!

Anyone traveling our main lower driveway is liable to get buzzed by him, especially if driving a car made in Japan. And woe to those who figure backing up is the thing to do. He’ll charge after you so fast, you’ll have trouble keeping an eye on him! The bird may well be thinking those car engines are rival drumming males. On the other hand, we’ve found that, if you dare to cut the engine and get out of the car, he does not retreat, but goes right for your feet! Makes you want to holler “May Day”!

Meade Cadot