Raptor capture! Feds' falconer gets his hawk
Updated 8:49 am, Sunday, March 11, 2012
An adage holds that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but to some it also may mean peace of mind.
A falconer from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture on Friday captured a male red-shouldered hawk, one of a pair of territorial raptors believed to have been attacking people in the area around Fairfield Ludlowe High School, not far from their Barlow Road nest.
"He'll be brought in to captivity for a few months to hopefully disrupt his aggressive behavior and result in less aggravation for residents around the nest," said Laurie Fortin, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The hawk will be held in captivity until late summer or early fall, past the species' nesting period, and then brought back to Fairfield with the hope that the birds, together or apart, will cease aggressive behavior toward humans and find a new, less-populated site -- or sites -- to nest, Fortin said.
"It's unclear whether one or both were attacking people," she said.
Since January, there have been several reports of people being attacked by a red-shouldered hawk like the captured raptor, including several students on the Ludlowe campus as recently as Monday. A woman riding her bicycle on Brookbend Road also was attacked. Officials believe the student is the fifth person to be attacked by a hawk, although they are not certain all of the incidents involve the same hawk.
Elm Street resident Kenneth Johnson had submitted photos to the Fairfield Citizen of a red-shouldered hawk, staring at his cats as it perched on his deck railing. Given his home's proximity to the Ludlowe campus, he theorized the hawk might have been the bird strafing people in the neighborhood.
Fortin said the birds were acting aggressively toward people to protect the nest, with the intent of laying eggs there. The nest was found on private property not far from Ludlowe on Barlow Road near the school. Several weeks earlier, firefighters had dismantled a nest on the Ludlowe grounds, which apparently was not used by the hawks.
"It's not typical behavior, but it's not abnormal," Fortin said of the birds' attacks, adding that about one out 200 such birds exhibit aggression toward humans. "They're always aggressive toward other birds. Last year, maybe we had eight cases with these birds in residential areas."
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