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It's a hard-knock life for one hungry hawk

Downtown Medford played host to a wild and somewhat sanguine show of nature Friday morning when a young but large red-tailed hawk showed passersby how the food chain actually works.

The late-morning hum of traffic along South Central Avenue turned into a loud and sharp thud just before 11 a.m. when the hawk, with a pigeon in its talons, smacked into the glass door of the Living Opportunities gallery across from Vogel Plaza.

"It just smashed into the door," gallery Director Dan Mish says. "I thought someone was trying to break in. Then I thought wait a minute, that's a bird."

Hunting from above, one of Jackson County's most commonly seen hawks apparently plucked the unsuspecting pigeon right out of the air as raptors are occasionally known to do. But being a young hunter, the hawk didn't have its escape plan fully dialed in.

As it tried to bank and fly away, it flew right into the door, smearing pigeon innards on the glass, Mish says.

"It was quite a sight to see," Mish says.

When the door stopped shaking, Mish opened it to find the hawk standing atop its quarry but in no hurry to fly away — possibly because it was momentarily concussed from the crash.

Central Avenue motorists and pedestrians stopped to gawk at the hawk, its nearly 2-foot-long body clogging the sidewalk.

"Everyone was amazed," Mish says.

Mish walked outside to take a closer look at the bird, stepping within 2 feet of it.

"I was surprised he didn't fly away," he says. "He just stood there, staring at me. Then I thought, hey, I should be taking pictures."

So Mish dashed back into the gallery, grabbed his phone and clicked away. Others followed suit.

The bird remained as long as five minutes before it had had enough of the growing citizen paparazzi.

The hawk picked up lunch, spread its 4-foot wings and made off to sup someplace less crowded.

"It was so big it made the pigeon look like a canary," Mish says. "That was just the coolest."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

A young red-tailed hawk stands over a pigeon he killed Friday along South Central Avenue in Medford. Photo by Dan Mish
Melissa Stiles took this photo of a young red-tailed hawk that caught a pigeon in downtown Medford.