One great thing about bike commuting is that it can expose you to nature more than commuting in a car or other public transit might. As the old expression goes, you can take time to stop and smell the roses - or perhaps take time to stop and witness bird on vermin carnage!
When people think about New York City I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is tall buildings and a mass of humanity. While this is true, nature also has a presence in the city. Yesterday I was following my normal route along the bike path on the west side of Manhattan and I noticed a rather large, moving object out of the corner of my eye.
I glanced over and saw a huge bird swooping into a tree. The bird landed on a branch stump only about 10 feet off of the ground and I slammed on my brakes and looped back. What I saw was simply amazing. See for yourself:
There is a decent Red-Tailed Hawk population in NYC and this one had just found breakfast. I was very close to the bird and he or she was not nervous at all, but the zoom on my camera did help a great deal.
If you look closely, you will see that a decent sized rat is firmly in the claw of the bird. When I first stopped the rat was still very much alive, but the hawk took care of business pretty quickly, and efficiently I might add.
Strangely enough, this is not my first encounter with a hungry hawk in NYC. About three years ago I witnessed something pretty amazing. I was walking on Riverside Drive and noticed a motionless squirrel in the middle of the road. It did not appear to have been hit by a car as that would have caused a pretty bloody scene.
All of the sudden I noticed a huge hawk diving toward the squirrel. The hawk swooped down, snatched the squirrel without breaking flight and soared off into the distance. I cannot be 100% sure, but based upon some encounters with birds a few years ago, I think I might know what have happened. While in a parking lot a few years ago I noticed that some nuts were falling on the pavement, but there was not a tree near. I looked up and there was a bird perched on the top of light post. The bird (not a bird of prey) was dropping the nuts from the top of the post onto the pavement so they would crack open.
That led me to believe that either accidentally or on purpose, the hawk had caught the squirrel but dropped it from a decent height, resulting in the death of the squirrel when it hit the pavement. All that was left to do was come back and claim it. I can't be certain, but it seems plausible.
This is an awesome bike hack in my mind. If I had not been riding I would have never caught this awesome wildlife moment . . . in the concrete jungle of NYC no less.