A pile of feathers in Mount Waverley

17 posts / 0 new
Last post
kirsz
kirsz's picture
A pile of feathers in Mount Waverley

This morning I found a pile of feathers on my backyard lawn. Actually there were two piles - one larger and one smaller. They were each in a circle form - more or less. The larger pile had lots of grey/black feathers - small and large. Each feather looked like it had been individually plucked. They were not broken. In the large pile I also found some gizzards. But there was nothing else. I googled it and the first site to come up was by a West Australian environmentalist and photographer. It was called iNSIGHT and featured an explanation of such a pile. The author suggested that a pile such as I found this morning was most likely the result of a hawk killing another bird - possibly a pigeon. He said such a kill characteristically has the features that I described and is quite different from a kill by a fox or cat. He didn't mention possums.

However I am only aware of one possible sighting of a hawk in Mount Waverley (a suburb of Melbourne) in about 2014. Does anyone have any comments?

Jack

TheBirdLover
TheBirdLover's picture

I live close to that area and I have never seen a hawk, or any other birds of prey, yet. Could it be another bird like a harrier, eagle, kite, osprey or hobby?

M.M.

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thank you for your prompt response. I was also surprised. But note this article from the Waverley Leader of 2014:

Fox and hawk stalk rabbits near where two foxes walked on roof in Mt WaverleyJuly 28, 2014 10:58am

Julia RabarWaverley Leader

<19eaabd750e04461240b62eb5360351a>Mighty Mouse the rabbit enjoys some (now rare) time in the open with friend Bear.

A HUNGRY hawk and brazen fox have been targeting tiny rabbits in Mt Waverley.

Mt Waverley woman Sair Buckle said she had been forced to lock up her pet rabbits after a hawk was seen hanging around her backyard — near where two foxes were seen walking across a roof in broad daylight — in April.

Ms Buckle owns two rabbits, a netherlands dwarf named Mighty Mouse who weighs a mere 1kg, and a mini lop, Bear, who weighs about 3kg.

ARE WILD ANIMALS AN ISSUE WHERE YOU LIVE? TELL US BELOW

She took a photograph of the hawk to Healesville Sanctuary, where a bird of prey expert told her and partner Andrew it was looking for a mouse-sized feed.

Last week they heard a noise and ran ­outside to find a fox scratching at the rabbit cage about 11.30pm.

Ms Buckle said the dog-sized fox did not run away until her partner walked towards it.

She was surprised at how big the fox was.

“I was really taken aback, I thought, ‘Am I in The Wind in the Willows?’, this is really weird,” Ms Buckle said.

“Luckily we came out in time and he didn’t get the bunnies.”

<3579be01ac5709782b53a0e492624697>These two foxes enjoy a stroll a Mt Waverley roof — where you’d be more likely to find a hawk — about 11.45am on June 17.

Ms Buckle said she had approached the Department of Environment and Primary Industries for advice, but was told there was no use trying to remove the pest.

zosterops
zosterops's picture

Brown Goshawks are locally fairly common i see them all over melbourne regularly. 

also visiting and perhaps occasionally breeding in your general area are collared sparrowhawks, aust hobbies, peregrines, nankeen kestrels, black-shouldered kites, whistling kites. spotted and swamp harriers are possible in parklands. square-tailed kites and sea-eagles and wedge-tailed eagles have also been recorded rarely.    

the first two are extremely furtive and people don't know they have them in their backyards. 

i seriously doubt an osprey is likely in the area, though it might be possible as a vagrant. 

butcherbirds and currawongs (pied and grey) are also resident in the area and occasionally take birds 

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thank you Zosterops. That's fascinating. When you say, "the first two are extremely furtive.." do you mean the Brown Goshawk and the Sparrowhawk or the Sparrowhawk and Aust. Hobby. I had never heard of Hobbies before, by the way, but I'm a novice in this area.

Jack

zosterops
zosterops's picture

goshawk and sparrowhawk. they are also closely related species and almost identical in appearance. it's pretty leafy around that area which suits these woodland-dwelling hawks. 

http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Accipiter-fasciatus

http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Accipiter-cirrocephalus

hobbies are a type of falcon and prefer openish areas, i've only seen them a couple of times around Mt Waverly, both times high overhead in the burbs. around jells park is probably best local habitat. 

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thank you for that clarification and for the websites.

Jack

detritus
detritus's picture

I am not exactly in the area (I'm in Adelaide) but definitely agree that collared sparrowhawks and/or brown goshawks are more common than they seem and will chase after mid-sized birds in view of humans. Had a close call watching what I think was a sparrowhawk chasing after a pigeon this morning. I was on the very outskirts of one of the local suburban conservation parks, only a stone's throw from the main road and surrounding houses. I've also seen them perched in trees in the suburbs themselves, provided there are enough trees and cover about.

Really not easy to tell one from the other, mind you.

I guess keep your eyes peeled in future! These guys sit very still in the trees and I've never heard them make much noise. Best off spotting them on the move or catching a glimpse of the bright yellow eyes.

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thank you detritus. Yes, I will keep my eyes peeled. Interestingly I found another killed bird on the lawn this morning. But this kill had all the features of an attack by a larger creature - the neck of the bird was macerated down to the vertebrae but everything else was pretty much intact. Very different from the neat pile of feathers left by the hawk. And two hours earlier I had noticed a ginger cat lurking in the vicinity of the lawn before it slinked off and disappeared through a gap in the fence. I suspect IT was the killer.

Incidentally, how do you say "Goshawk"? Is it Goss Hawk? Or Gosh Hawk?

dwatsonbb
dwatsonbb's picture

Most online dictionaries display the pronounciation as "Gos hok". I have always heard them referred to as Gos hawk, that's the way I hear it anyway.

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thanks Dale. Gos Hok it is. Sort of catches one in the throat.

zosterops
zosterops's picture

i would think that would be an american pronunication where 'hok' and 'hawk' are pronounced the same in the dialect

i say gos hawk, hawk rhyming with pork (non-rhotic 'r' as h) or chalk. 

i would pronounce 'hok' as rhyming with 'sock'. 

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thank you zosterops. I've never heard "pork" pronounced in a rhotic dialect. 

But then I've never strayed this far off the beaten track after noticing a pile of feathers on the ground.

TheBirdLover
TheBirdLover's picture

I am bit late now, but just this morning I saw a bird of prey flying past my garden . I am not sure which one as it was a bit foggy, but it was a decent size. And as it was flying past,some magpies in our garden got quite spooked and they tried to hide themselves behind a bush. I am pretty sure it was not a crow or raven as it was bigger and they way it flew was almost like it was hovering.

M.M.

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thank you MM. Whereabouts in Glen Waverley?

TheBirdLover
TheBirdLover's picture

The bird was passing Springvale road, heading towards the direction of Jells park.

M.M.

kirsz
kirsz's picture

Thanks. That's probably a nice note to end the forum on.

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube