Friday, January 25, 2008

Squirrels Fighting for their Lives in Prospect Park

I recently ran into a man walking away from Prospect Park with a beautiful camera lobbing against his chest, it's lens weighing as much as quart of milk I'm sure. I suspected he had been taking pictures of birds in the park, a fact which he happily admitted to. He turned out to be Michael Castellano, and to my delight he's been kind enough to let me display his gorgeous images here and post his observations about the hunting behaviors of hawks and the defensive maneuvers of squirrels. Those are his images above, and below please find his comments.

"I've observed squirrel behavior many times when threatened by hawks. Like prarie dogs and meerkats, they have a special alert when a hawk is in the area. They growl out a low pitched warning sound and take defensive positions in the trees, usually on a lower branch with their tails against the main tree trunk, face and claws forward to face any attacking hawk. (See top image) When actually attacked, it's usually when the hawk succeeds in panicking the squirrel into running, with the hawk attacking from behind. Hawks will also attempt to knock squirrels out of trees where they may fall to their deaths.

One day last year I was feeding a couple of squirrels not far from the same location in the picture I sent you of the hawk with its kill. As I looked through the lens I saw both squirrels suddenly fleeing towards a tree. An instant later a big red tail literally flew over my shoulder and just missed catching one! Unfortunately I didn't even get a shot off of the near miss, although I did get one of the hawk, which landed in the same tree the squirrels climbed. But she gave up quickly and flew off.

BTW, I'm actually better known for my squirrel photos!" Here's the link for more squirrel and hawk action.

By the way Michael grew up on 17th Street, and left these comments regarding the 17th Street Ghost post.

"I read your blog on the 17th Street haunting. I'm Italian and grew up on 17th Street and the "ghost" you describe reminded me of my own father, who was always building and planting things. We actually had fig trees in the yard. He would wrap them in burlap and linoleum in the Winter to prevent freezing.

I grew up and lived in 437 16th Street, which is just above 8th Avenue. I now live on 14th. Where on 17th is this haunted house you heard about? It's more likely that there are mice or rats running around in the walls."

I don't know the address of that house, I didn't ask. Thanks again for the benefit of your experiences in the park and your skill with a camera!


Lisanne said...

STUNNING photos!!!!

amarilla said...

I know, how did he do that? I can't believe they're real.