To the Editor:
Was it just yesterday when complaints rained in that peregrines — a handsome falcon only recently rescued from extinction — were wiping out local populations of pigeons and monk parakeets? Today the villains seem to be Cooper’s hawks, now reported to be damaging birds in Nichols Park. I will respond as I did before: are there too many wolves in Yellowstone National Park or too many sharks in the sea? A healthy ecosystem needs predators to manage and enhance prey species — an urban park is no exception.
Cooper’s hawks are native species. They feed on small mammals — mice, squirrels, young rabbits, bats and rats. They also feed on birds — starlings, pigeons, and to the dismay of bird lovers, thrushes and warblers, especially during spring and autumn migratory seasons. Hawks and other predatory birds do not take more prey that needed to sustain themselves and their young. To do so would waste precious energy needed to meet other challenges of life.
If residents of the Nichols Park area are concerned about faltering bird numbers, I invite them to come a few blocks west to Stout Park where robins, cardinals and chickadees, chimney swifts, nighthawks and mourning doves abound. Wood pewees often spend part of the summer there.
Predators are an important part of urban ecological health.
Frances S. Vandervoort