Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensisI

Work crews have begun the transformation of University Avenue between the freeway and Marina Boulevard, one of the worst stretches of road in Berkeley. And on the scene to supervise the job is this Red-tailed Hawk. It’s not a bad idea. Workers disturbing the ground might flush out some little mammal running in a panic, and voila! there’s a meal for the hawk.

A closer look at the bird’s talons shows a couple of interesting points. This bird has been banded. It shows an orange band with the letters “CA” plainly visible. On the other foot there seems to be a gray metal band with illegible markings.

There is a procedure for reporting a banded bird if you find it dead or injured. You need to report the number on the band. Luckily that’s not possible here.

The other thing that intrigues me is how the bird is able to maintain its grip on this round steel pipe. It can’t dig its talons into the surface, the way it would with a tree branch. As the photo shows, some of its talons aren’t even touching the pipe. The bird must have soft pads on its feet that give it some purchase. Or else it’s just balancing, and a sudden gust of wind could blow it off.

Thanks to photographer Phil Rowntree for sharing his photos of this bird.

P.S. This is not the same individual recently photographed and written up in the Native Plant Area. That one was not banded.

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