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Pigeon Hawk Catching Dragonflies

R. M. Bond
Publication Information
5 (September-October)
From Field and Study

Pigeon Hawk Catching Dragonflies.-Although the Pigeon Hawk (F&o columbarizrs) is known to eat dragonflies with some regularity (Dawson, Birds Calif., 1923:1634; Bent, U.S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 170, 1938:75; Kennedy, Ecol. Monogr., 20, 1950:104-142), there appear to be few accounts of the capture of this prey. On the morning of October 8, 1950, I was inspecting a farm pond near Goleta, Santa Barbara County, California. It was a sunny morning, and many large blue dragonflies (Aeschna) were flying around and resting on leaves of emergent cattails. Suddenly, a Pigeon Hawk shot down about 25 feet from me and seized a flying dragonfly in its feet. It swung off away from me, biting at its prey in flight rather like a Sparrow Hawk carrying a grasshopper. However, it went behind some trees, before I could be certain that it,was actually feeding in flight, and perched about 200 yards away. About five minutes later, the bird flew back to the pond, reaching the area about 300 feet in the air. It circled once, and then stooped at great speed to take another dragonfly a few feet above the pond. This time the hawk flew to a dead limb at the top of a live oak and ate its prey there, discarding the wings. The hawk, from its plumage, was either a female or an immature male. From its small size, I took it to be the latter. It was not especially dark, so appeared to be F. c. bendirei rather than suckleyi.-R. M. BOND, Soil Conservation Service, Portland, Oregon, March 21, 1951. 

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