There's a rather suspicious news story coming out of Stonington, Connecticut about a "red-tailed hawk attacking people." Apparently, a bird of prey has been diving at people and has struck at least 5 (taking off with a hat and headphones and sending one woman to the hospital for stitches. Here's a video of the news story or you can read about it here. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JRojgdK0DE&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]
There are a few things bothering me about this story. The initial reports that "experts" are giving about why the red-tailed hawk is diving at people is that it's a most likely a territory issue. This is puzzling 1. because it's a wee bit early for that type of territoriality in a red-tailed hawk and 2. according to witnesses, this has been going on since last summer.
If you ask me, this sounds like an imprinted bird, meaning someone raised a baby hawk who didn't know what they were doing, the hawk "imprinted" on what it saw feeding it and is associating people with food or interacting with humans the way the should be interacting with other hawks.
Another thing that bothers me is the hawk nest people keep pointing to as belonging to the diving hawk. It sure doesn't look like a red-tailed hawk nest to me. It looks more like an old Cooper's hawk nest. The red-tail nests that I've seen are usually large even after the season is done--kind of like a big bowl shape. Cooper's hawk nests are smaller and I've seen quite a few in small and narrow crotches of trees and they tend to not stand up to winter weather quite like a red-tail nest can.
I can't find any photos or videos of the hawk itself but I'm sure they will be coming. Stonington has sent out warnings to residents to be careful of the area because of the attacks, which I'm sure will bring a few birders or thrill seekers out to be dived at by a hawk (I know I would go). It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. Hopefully, it will be handled better than the hawk situation that happened here in Minnesota last summer.