PEI·Photos

Hawk gets friendly with cows in barn

A hawk seeking shelter from winter storms on P.E.I. has used the refuge so often this winter it is starting to get friendly with the cows there.

Red-tailed hawk appears in P.E.I. barn in advance of snowstorms

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      A hawk seeking shelter from winter storms on P.E.I. has used the refuge so often this winter it is starting to get friendly with the cows there.

      "He sat there while the cows were actually licking him, very close to him," Bonshaw farmer Jeff MacQuarrie told CBC News.

      "I was amazed! I had to take pictures, it was the first I've ever taken any pictures, and it was a very cool experience."

      That was pretty awesome, to actually come that close to a wild bird.- Allan MacQuarrie

      The red-tailed hawk started making his appearances in the dairy barn in advance of storms a couple of months ago. He was so good at predicting the storms the family called him Boomer, after the local CBC weatherman.

      In his first few visits the hawk stayed up in the rafters, chasing away the pigeons, which was a bonus for the MacQuarries. MacQuarrie was surprised to find it on the floor with the cows during a recent storm. Boomer had caught a rat, and was comfortable with the cows close by while it ate.

      Jeff MacQuarrie's father Allan was even able to get close enough to touch the bird.

      "That was pretty awesome, to actually come that close to a wild bird," he said.

      P.E.I. wildlife officials say hawks are usually scared of people, and avoid them except in extreme circumstances, such as when food is difficult to find.

      That has been the situation for many birds on P.E.I. recently that rely on small animals for food. More than four metres of snow has fallen on the Island since late January, providing small mammals with plenty of cover.

      The province and the Atlantic Veterinary College say they have received calls about strange bird behaviour. A hawk flew under a deck to catch a squirrel, and an underfed owl that was struck by a car.

      Boomer has not been in the MacQuarrie's barn since the last storm ended early Monday.

      "It's always exciting when he's in the barn," said Jeff MacQuarrie.

      "He's kind of a pet."

      The family expects he'll make his return at the next sign of snow.

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