The Casual Reporter: Hawk Hunts Sparrows Backstage

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hawk Hunts Sparrows Backstage

I first saw him last Wednesday during the horse warm-up for the Renault privatized show: a larger-than-normal bird in the rafters of the Wild West Show Arena. I only caught a glimpse so I couldn't identify the species, but it seemed a bird of prey - I thought perhaps an owl.

Saturday I think it was, on the way to warm up my horse, I noticed a dead sparrow in the corridor near the Gun Room. I jokingly remarked to Mike that it seemed an ominous sign and went about my business, leaving the bird where it lay. Later that night I learned that one of the handlers had picked up the sparrow. Apparently it wasn't dead, for it fluttered to life and flew away. At that moment a small bird of prey, possibly a Kestrel, swooped down from its perch among the water pipes above the Gun Room and snatched the sparrow in mid-air. Unfortunately for the Kestrel, when it swooped upwards with its prey, the Kestrel bounced off the netting stretched above the horse stalls to prevent bird nesting and dropped the sparrow. Later that evening the Kestrel was seen consuming a sparrow so he apparently was successful in making a kill. I guess that's a thumbs-up for the dinner portion of our show but I wonder what he thinks about the show itself? Is it too for the birds?

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