So as the cold weather moves in for another season, I definitely notice some changes in my bird feeder activity. You know, some species fly further south until next Spring and for other species this is their southern region. And another change I see is the increase in Hawk activity as it gets more difficult to find mice with the colder weather. And when the snow hits, it gets even worse for them. So, what's a Hawk to do? Check out some local bird feeders for another natural food source... smaller birds!
We get a pair of Coopers Hawks when the snow stays on the ground. And they enjoy a Pigeon feast under my feeders. And personally this doesn't bother me really. I don't hate the Pigeons but there's more than enough of them around and really their etiquette is quite rude.
But before the Coopers pair arrive, I normally see a Sharp-shinned Hawk. And he/she arrived almost on schedule a couple weeks back. And it's funny that with the smaller the Hawk, the bolder they seem to come. Look at him here, just giving me the stare down...
At this moment all I kept thinking was "please don't poop on me".
The above shots were quite a comical moment actually. I was outside filling some bird feeders and since it was a pleasant morning, my little side-kick Meadow joined me. She just loves to partake in anything her daddy does outside or anywhere else really. Ask Angie how Meadow is when we move furniture, set up the Christmas tree, etc.
So, I am filling the feeders and Meadow is looking off to the yard next door as some House Sparrows are bouncing about. Meadow is on a leash/harness set-up and has about 25 ft of length to go about where she chooses... and she's perfectly fine with that.
Suddenly from out of the pines right behind the house comes this Sharp-shin Hawk! And he's swooping right down at Meadow! It's happening so fast but it's like slow motion too. I am frozen as I watch this. Now Meadow is 15 lbs and this Hawk is maybe 3 lbs after a couple Sparrows for lunch. The Hawk really cannot do too much in way of trying to make Meadow his next meal with lots of leftovers. And as he gets close over Meadow, he veers up and over the fence to the yard next door. And my cat is completely oblivious to what had just happened until now as she notices him perched in front of her and staring her down. I can see the excitement in Meadow's face and it's like "oh boy, look at this big bird!" And seconds later the Hawk is coming at Meadow again. Only this time Meadow is ready and jumps up at the Hawk! I wish I was videoing this whole ordeal. Of course Meadow did not catch the Hawk and thankfully with the first strike, the Hawk did not connect his talons with Meadow's back. Sure he couldn't kill/eat Meadow but he could do a serious number on her back and a costly vet bill to me.
The shots above were right after that bit of action as he sat himself on a branch above me and was rather vocal. At first, I did have some idea that this Hawk was starving and desperate. But watching him for some time I realize this was more about a territorial thing and getting a cat out of his potential feeding grounds.
Another morning and another attitude stare at me.
Many backyard bird enthusiasts get pretty upset when a Hawk comes to visit. It creates havoc out there, the little birdies get upset, occasionally get caught and eaten, and for days after the backyard can become pretty quiet. This last bit happened with me after two weeks of this Sharpie hitting my yard for meals. I saw no birds for nearly a week. Was I upset? No. This is the natural way of things. And really, it's something most of us never get a chance to see.
I find Hawks to be beautiful birds. And they do contribute to some population control of certain bird species. See, I get a pair of Northern Cardinals, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, a pair of Blue Jays and 30 to 50 House Sparrows and European Starlings. I would bet on a Sparrow or Starling getting nabbed over the "special" birds.
On a cold winter morning, sitting in my kitchen with a nice hot coffee; why turn on the television when I have the best nature channel on in the neighbourhood right outside my back door.
This Red-tail Hawk has made a few appearances recently. And she sends everyone running and flying for their lives. She makes the Squirrels cry as they cling tightly to the tree trunks. And she is the one bird of prey that comes around that would have me putting Meadow inside.
I leave you with that thought... to never leave your pets unattended outside, and really no matter the season, because you never know who is watching.