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End of Summer PI Community Bird Reports - Part 2

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

a) Jody’s encounter with a raptor!

Jody looks up from her work while on the porch - an unusual flutter catches her attention, or perhaps more of a flapping. Jody finds herself eye-to-eye with a hawk. Jody suspects the bird is thinking: " Hmmm – I don't think I could eat something this size". When Jody looks at it, she thinks: "Hmmm - I think maybe he could tear my face off with that beak if he were so inclined . . . ". Would it tear her to shreds – like her shreds of material with which she toils each day? No of course not. It looks naïve, so it must be harmless. That naïve look suggests to her that it is a juvenile hawk – a little confused, but keenly aware of her – and ready to bolt – and it did. Jody was “glad that the hawk decided to exit the porch before their conversation went any further”. The hawk was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk frequently visiting the South Shore neighborhoods – especially at Butch and Michelle’s feeder (Pls see August blog, Part 2) near Jody’s porch.

b) A goatsucker heard in the deep woods off Central Avenue!

During a lively discussion with Jeremy and Martha, Jane and Casper, Timothy and Claudine, we learned that a goatsucker was heard at dusk near Central Avenue woods. A goatsucker is any nocturnal bird belonging to the family Caprimulgidae consisting of nightjars and nighthawks. This family of birds has a history, with accounts dating as far back to the time of Aristotle. They were named goatsuckers because it was believed that they sucked the milk of goats. The Latin translation of caprimulgus is goat-milker. This folklore became widespread because these birds are entirely insectivorous, so they are frequently found in buggy barnyards with suckling goats and dripping milk. Farmers associated their goats’ dripping milk with this mysterious night bird. (1)

Our Peaks Island caprimulgid was a Whip-Poor-Will, a nightjar, and its behavior is not at all as described in history. Their large head and mouth are designed to catch insects and swallow them while on the wing. The nightjars are secretive (another reason they historically created suspicion of wrong doing), nocturnal, but most active at dawn and dusk. Their cryptic plumage blends with the foliage around them while roosting. The song of the male is whistled - “whip, pr-will” or “whip, pr-weeea” with the last note rising in pitch at the end, and is heard at dawn and dusk. Migration is also at night and they will travel from the temperate regions to the southern states and as far as Central America. This bird, heard by Martha and Jeremy, may have been migrating through this area, or was it breeding here and simply not heard in the spring? Sadly the Whip-Poor-Will species is in decline in much of its northern habitats. (1)

c) Ice Pond Bald Eagles!

Tamsen reports: "My daughter, Fiona, spotted a male and female Bald Eagle in the trees next to the Ice Pond [in the last days of August]. Fishing for breakfast? I've looked for them on my walks since but haven't seen them there again. It was a beautiful day to see them fly across the pond - when they finally got spooked by the gathering crowd (we waved every passerby in to share the experience!)." Michelle responded "I wouldn't think there would be the size or amount of fish that an eagle would be interested in at the Ice Pond, but you never know ..." Could they be keeping an eye on their juvenile eagle who has recently been scouring the Green Islands for morsels of fish or birds?

d) Safer ways to remove rodents:

Fred from Duffy's Hardware posted on Peaks Island Neighbor other ways to remove rodents - instead of poisons that can be transferred to other animals, including birds. A few drops of peppermint oil placed where they enter your home, works well. Snap-traps can be used as a back-up inside your home. Thank you for your consideration.


1. del Hoya, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J. eds. (1999). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona (pages 302-387).

Other Information

Written and photograph by Patty Wainright

Reviewed by Sam Wainright, Michelle Brown, Marty

Thank you for your interest in the PILP Bird Blog. If you have any comments or questions please contact Michelle at:

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