DIn the beginning there was a hawk. Four days ago he was sitting a bit higher in a leafless, easily visible tree in the Victoria Park in Berlin-Kreuzberg and cranking a wood pigeon. Cranking means nothing more than eating. At first there was nothing strange about the process, except for the calm with which the hawk literally picked up the pigeon. Because even though hawks have been living in cities like Berlin for a long time and come up to three times a day in some backyards to check the pigeon population, they have remained rather shy.
It was probably just the calm that came with the measures against the corona pandemic that made the bird eat calmer. A calm, which is probably also why the animals are attracted to more public activity because the park visitors now generally follow the guidelines. So you could see four buzzards in the park on the same day, and they were anything but quiet. They argued – albeit briefly – very violently and screaming loudly. And you don’t speculate too much if you assume that there were two competing couples arguing over there.
Egyptian geese in Frankfurt am Main
A couple of buzzards has been living in the Victoria Park for years, and has raised a cub every year for the past six years, something that was hard to ignore in the surrounding area. Every time the boy was so big that he could be weaned, one heard his begging and forsaken calls from changing trees and rooftops, so heartbreaking and penetrating that one wanted to curse the parents. The park is not only an excellent area for buzzard pairs; it also enables birds to raise young very successfully. It just seems that there is not enough space for two couples.
It is interesting, however, that the buzzards come up with the idea of trying to settle in the park. If it was actually related to the much smaller disturbances caused by the shutdown of human activity in public urban spaces, the response of the birds would be extremely quick. This is also not unusual. Animals can quickly discover new opportunities and spaces for life to open up. But this only happens when the pressure to find and develop new biotopes is particularly strong. It usually takes years for animals to populate previously unfamiliar environments. Unless they were actively resettled by people and shipped to areas where they suddenly find forms of realization that were previously unknown to them.
This case can be studied as an example at the Nilgänsen in Frankfurt am Main. Nile geese usually live in Africa, from the Nile to South Africa, and breed at incredible heights in trees. At heights, at the sight of which you always wonder how a chick can jump down alive. The geese used to warm climates found such good conditions in Frankfurt that you could still see a Egyptian goose swimming on the banks of the Main at the beginning of December last year, with seven cubs whose down feathers on the wings had just been replaced by real feathers. In January the Nilsgansgössel, as the chickens are called geese, were almost feathered, and there were still seven. Which is a breeding result that surpasses every domestic city duck and greylag goose.
It is also the outstanding care of the young that made the Egyptian Geese a plague in Frankfurt. At least in the eyes of most of the city’s citizens. The knowledge that the geese did not come to Frankfurt on their own, but were transported there by people, does not play a role in such abusive diagnoses of plague. Initially held for show purposes in enclosures in parks and zoos, these geese also found life outside the enclosures and fences better than that behind bars. At the moment, you can hear that the Egyptian geese on the banks of the Main are also enjoying the fact that the disturbances caused by humans have decreased significantly. Which is not necessarily good news for smaller duck birds, which have little chance in direct confrontation with Egyptian geese.