MILWAUKEE -- Move over, Bernie Brewer. Miller Park has a new mascot. A hungry bird -- some thought it was one of Wisconsin's many red-tailed hawks, while the Brewers' amateur birders believe it was a peregrine falcon -- dropped in for the third inning of Sunday's 4-1 Brewers victory over the Astros, taking a bite out of an unlucky pigeon on the way in before settling into the grass only 50 feet or so from a very wary-looking Houston right fielder Hunter Pence. There he stayed, throughout a three-run Milwaukee rally complete with fireworks that followed Rickie Weeks' home run. Pence did the right thing by staying away.
"It's really unlikely for a bird like that to get aggressive, unless somebody was coming after him, trying to pick him up or getting too close to his nest," said Heather Neldner, a zookeeper in the Milwaukee County Zoo's aviary. "If he's just sitting there, minding his own business, it's unlikely that he would go after a random person." That's just what he did, minding his own business and perhaps bringing the Brewers some luck. Weeks led off the Brewers' half of the third with a home run, and Prince Fielder followed three batters later with a rare triple, part of a three-run rally. Fireworks, big cheers and all, the Miller Park "falcon-hawk" remained unmoved. The bird finally took flight after Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez recorded the inning's final out and umpire Angel Hernandez started walking in the bird's direction. The bird then lifted up and circled the stadium before finding a perch near Miller Park's Gehl Club. "Whatever it was, it looked scared," pitcher Randy Wolf said. "It looked at me like, 'Why is the roof closed? I can't get out of here, man!'" Wolf has seen animals in ballparks before.
"Whatever it was, it looked scared. It looked at me like, 'Why is the roof closed? I can't get out of here, man!'"
|-- Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf|
"There have been squirrels on the field, just running across the field," he said. "Cats, back in the old Astrodome [in Houston] and the Vet [in Philadelphia].""It didn't spook me. It was cool," said Brewers first base coach Garth Iorg, who was within a few feet of the bird when it first landed. "I know some people were getting nervous. It was pretty wild." Brewers closer John Axford said the relievers could see another bigger bird circling outside the ballpark's windows. "We were wondering if it was the mom or the dad, trying to get in on the action," Axford said. How's this for a coincidence: The Milwaukee County Zoo is hosting a "Birds of Prey Show" from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Weather permitting, zoo visitors can see a variety of birds soaring over the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm in a free daily show. The zoo has a red-tailed hawk named Ricochet as part of the farm flock, and Neldner said a number of wild hawks have nests on park grounds. Some used to reside atop the light standards at County Stadium.