Sunday, December 4, 2011

This week in backyard carnage

A knock at the door yesterday morning, and there were our downstairs neighbors. They looked solemn and anxious. Also maybe a little relieved when we both showed up OK at the top of the steps.

The reason: "There is blood on our porch."


They showed us. Substantial blood. In two places on the railing. One a heavy glob six inches across. The other a smear almost where somebody's hand might have been placed in staggering down the steps...

But, no, we haven't been conducting ritual sacrifices in our San Francisco apartment, nor fighting off burglars, nor hashing out who gets the dingus.

Instead, we suspect the critter pictured up top, who is probably a sharp-shinned hawk. Note grisly remains of feathery victim on branch. Joel took this picture on Friday.

This isn't the first time we've seen a small hawk around: every year or so, a hawk like this one (not sure if the same) finds a victim on that same bare branch inside the avocado tree. Sadly, it's a place that doves and other small birds tend to presume is safe territory. Last March a small hawk dropped a freshly gutted rat on our back porch, then came back to finish it.

This week another neighbor saw a possibly larger hawk eating a pigeon in a tree one yard over. Wonder if that might have been the one to leave such a large blood spot.

Hm. There's a known redtail nest on top of the former SF Furniture Mart, now the Twitter building. That's only about three blocks from here. The facade has those big building-high Art Deco pillars. At the top of one on the Ninth Street side, around the very left edge of this picture, you can see straw and twigs sticking out.

Anyway, the neighbors are biologists. They know about blood. They cleaned it up with gloves. No more unidentified bodily fluids since then. So far.

Stuff that not entirely happy dreams are made of...

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