The cold weather has set in, the snow is on the ground and Hawks are all around. It's true, more and more can be seen through this season as a lot of their food source seemingly disappears in the snow... small mammals. Smaller birds become more of a staple diet through these months.
How do I know? Steady attacks at my bird feeders by these birds of prey.
There definitely is at least one Coopers Hawk who has been taking out some Pigeons lately. I don't mind really because Pigeons are a dime a dozen around here. Heck, I can even handle the mess they leave in the aftermath.
A gross sad sighting to some but this is life in the world of the wild. A Hawk only kills what he needs to eat, to survive. If you take the idea that this was a living creature out of your mind for a moment... look at that picture above, such contrast over the snow, the markings on the feathers are quite nice too.
I see more Hawks in my travels too! Mostly Red Tailed Hawks along the highways. On my 19 km trek from work to home, I see 4 every afternoon. Obviously 2 pairs.
I have seen another Red Tail a number of times on Scarlett Road as I get nearer to home. This one is rather bold and doesn't seem to be bothered too much by people in his vicinity. Too many I try to photograph high-tail from me long before I can get a zoom on them.
Last Saturday I was driving along Hwy 427 and counted 9 Hawks (all Red Tails I think) from Derry Road to Hwy 7 which isn't any more than 10 kms or so. Impressive! The thought of slamming on the brakes, jumping out and getting a photo run through my mind; but not such an easy task when driving 105 km/hr.
I snapped this one that seemed to hover just at the top of this hill. I thought I might get an eye-level in-flight shot but when I reached the top of the hill, he was gone.
A little further up the road I spotted this guy sitting at an intersection. I snapped this from my passenger window.
I've noticed a number of American Kestrels in my travels lately too! Three were in an area at the top of Hwy 427 last week. I took this picture through my front windshield before he flew off.
I must add that it's not just the winter when I see Hawks. They are just more visible at this time, to me anyways. All through the year, at any given time, I can have some bird of prey make or try to make a meal of one of my feathered friends. This Sharp Shin Hawk visited a few months back and caught himself a little House Sparrow.
I know a few who get quite upset over the fact of such birds visiting their properties/feeders and making a meal of the birds they feed. While it's never been my intention when backyard bird feeding, and I do my best to keep the feeders in spots with quick escape routes and hide outs... sometimes it just happens that the Hawk is clever and quick enough or a frightened bird goes the wrong way. Luckily for me it's been commoners that show up here in large numbers like House Sparrows, European Starlings and Pigeons who get nabbed. Catching a Blue Jay or Northern Cardinal would be heart-breaking to me since I see not much more than a pair of each.
But not every bird who gets caught, gets eaten. This Sharp Shin has a European Starling in his clutches and we thought he was done for but after a couple minutes of struggle, the Starling broke free and flew off. We sure don't need the television on, just have to look out the kitchen window for a daily story.
So, in your travels, keep your eye to the sky and around you, and you just might see one or a few of these guys along the way. Enjoy them!