-By Colin Wilson
This month I spent a week working in Forest Park, the largest urban park in the United States. The park is only 30 minutes from the our headquarters which meant we could stay in our own beds for longer than 3 nights. This gave the team a much needed break from travel.
We were improving the timber-stand of John F. Kennedy Forest. While felling trees the first day, we noticed a Red Tailed hawk perched in a tree near by eyeing us as we cut down the majority of the wood it called home. We named it Barry, and as the week progressed Barry became much more comfortable with our presence. This is, in spite of the fact we were operating several chainsaws and a commercial wood chipper. Both of these tools required the use of hearing and eye protection, neither of which this hawk possessed. At one point late in the week I even noticed him standing about 4 feet above me as I worked diligently to buck up the final log of the day. As we left that week I could only hope that Barry felt we were actually improving the place he lived.
Does conservation come at a cost?
I don't know.
Notes On Red Tailed Hawks
Red Tail Hawks (Like Barry), are migratory birds of prey that prefer to hunt and nest in park-like open grasslands with tall trees. Females will return to the same nesting site year after year, if it is still available to them. Thinning out a forest and restoring it to its open woodland form in Forest Park, would benefit the hawk in terms of hunting. However, red tails are well known for being highly adaptable - nesting pairs have even been found in New York City. So while they probably didn't mind Kennedy Forest as it was (full of invasive trees and species), they will no doubt flourish with the canopy opening a bit.
In addition, it is noted that the highly-intelligent red tailed hawks do well on highways, and adapt easily to the loud sounds of cars and trucks. It's no wonder Barry cared very little about the noise Colin was making with his chainsaw!