Rosie's squirrel and rat, Bobby perched high up - October 1st, 2013

The first Red-tailed Hawk I saw in Washington Square Park today was Bobby. He was perched on one of the lower Silver Center railings, facing the eastern side of the park:



I moved to a lawn at the western side of the park to watch him from.

I noticed a dead rat on the ground when I stepped to one side of the lawn: 


I couldn't be sure but it looked like there might have been a puncture wound on its side (from a Hawk's talon?). But I didn't get closer than I had to in order to take a photo. The rat looked undisturbed otherwise so it was more than likely poisoned.

It was found where a series of rat burrows are located behind the Holley Monument.

I paused to look around me and watched as flies swarmed on the remains of a couple of other rats in the vicinity. The stench of their decaying bodies then hit me. 

Maggots had already begun feasting on one body:


It takes a couple of days to a week for maggots to develop and begin to eat a dead animal (even faster if the animal was in the direct summer sun but this rat was in cooler temperatures' shade).

A Black-and-white Warbler used one of the rat deaths as an opportunity to quickly collect and eat flies that were on the carcass:



Family across the lawn:


Bobby began to preen:


Two other rat carcasses I saw within a few feet of the first ones:



The Hawks take their rats to the trees to eat and leave maybe a quarter of the bodies on a branch for later if they need 'leftovers'. But most of the time, the Hawks eat all of the rat in one sitting (since the bodies are so small) so I personally doubt these rats I saw were touched by the Hawks. There was too much of the carcass left intact and not otherwise eaten. Instead, it looked more of a case of poisoned rats beginning to rot where they fell dead.

I should add that I was told by a very reliable source that the park recently hired an exterminator who filled rat burrows with poison. These rats were therefore likely victims of that latest extermination. 

This source also let me know that there is usually only one park maintenance worker canvasing and cleaning the park during each shift. Surely Parks can do better and hire more staff, even if it is one more person, to help clean the park?


Washington Square Park is a high-profile park and tourist destination so it confounds me that more is not being done to maintain the park at the moment.

I did not want to keep discovering more dead rats (frankly, it was making me sick and I generally have a pretty strong stomach for these things) so I left the area and found a park worker who without hesitation walked with me to the site and disposed of the dead rats. 

I resumed my bird-watching.

A Peregrine Falcon flew around One Fifth Avenue then continued flying west:



I got closer to Bobby:






I had been watching him for several minutes when all of a sudden Rosie flew overhead and landed in the tree across from me, toting a squirrel.



It had been partially eaten. She tucked it into a groove between two small branches for leftovers.

She went to a different branch to relax on:


Cleaning up post-meal:


She would scan the ground for more prey while she perched:


Happy shake:





Her tree was in the area of the park under Bobby's building perch:




The sun forced me to move to get to a better angle:



Overstuffed trash can nearby:


Rosie descended into the tall grass below her:



She had been on her branch for an hour and forty five minutes.

She was on the ground for maybe ten seconds as she gathered a rat and wayward stick in her grip before heading to a tree to eat her new catch:
















Bobby was still on Silver:



He relaxed and preened until...



Rosie continued to peek about for prey:




Rosie flew further west after half an hour:




Bobby eventually left his perch after three hours and flew south, west, then out of the park:



Another Falcon appeared after a few minutes and dove far west: