From the no-man's land behind the South City Schnucks facing Cherokee Street, a bloodthirsty tan and white raptor suddenly pushed off from the ground near some pine trees, hauling a recently-expired pigeon by the back of its neck like a cat might carry a kitten. In a flurry of feathers, the murderous bird of prey and his breakfast were gone.
Denise Kirkpatrick, owner of the Wild Bird Center of South St. Louis County, tells the still mildly freaked-out Daily RFT that the bird was a Cooper's Hawk, a native North American bird.
"The Cooper's hawk is a rather large hawk and strictly eats birds," Kirkpatrick says. "Pigeons and doves are the mostly likely targets: They can fly fast but they are slow at takeoff."
And a city swoop like that isn't at all uncommon this time of year. Baby hawks are born in the spring, and at this stage in their lives the juvenile birds are just starting to hunt on their own without their parents.
"Sometimes they're not so adept so they take what's easy -- they only catch one maybe one out of ten times. Sometimes
in the city where there are lots of pigeons it's an easy target."