I do know what species this bird is, but I leave readers the fun of identifying it and telling others the traits that helped with the diagnosis.
The picture was taken by an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh, Vanessa Coleman, and forwarded by her roommate, Lauren Valyo to her academic advisor, via whom it eventually reached me. Here’s Vanessa’s story of the urban raptor:
I was cleaning up our apartment and decided to run the vacuum. As I was doing so, I happened to turn around and look at the window and I noticed this large bird sitting on the windowsill. I was so awe-struck that I immediately ran to my bedroom to grab my phone in order to take a picture of it. After I had gotten my phone, I slowly approached the side of the window in order to avoid scaring the bird. I snapped one quick picture but decided to try to get a better one from a closer spot. I walked right up to the window and the hawk just stared at me and allowed me to take the picture, however; there were snowflake clings on the window, so I wanted to clean them off to get a clearer picture. The bird watched me wipe off the window clings and only jerked its head back a bit, but still stayed put. It allowed me to take several more pictures, all looking directly into the lens of the camera. The hawk looking into the camera surprised me because many animals are disengaged or wary of allowing people to take pictures of them. I just stared at the hawk for about 15 minutes before I told my other roommate (not Lauren) about the bird. She came out and took a picture of it but was very abrupt in her movements and I believe she scared the bird and it flew away after approximately 20 minutes on our windowsill. I think the bird would have stayed much longer if my other roommate had not scared it away.
It was a very cool experience, especially living in the city. It’s the last thing I ever expected to happen in Pittsburgh!
h/t: via Hempenstein and Laurel