Friday, December 19, 2008

Habitat or Hunting Grounds?

This morning, I noticed the bird feeding area was awfully quiet, even though there was available food and water. I could see birds lined up on the telephone wires but none were coming to eat. It didn't take me long to spot the reason- sitting on the fence, pretty as could be was a hawk, just waiting for breakfast to fly by.

He was beautiful- just amazing to see sitting there. I tried to reach for my camera but he was gone, swooshing up over the roof of my house. The birds didn't come out though and a little while later I saw him again, flying through the area, and around the corner of the house. I went outside to look for him, but couldn't see him again, and pretty soon the birds came to the feeder as usual and started to eat. It wasn't long though, before he came back- causing a huge uproar with birds scattering everywhere and him right on the tails of one of them, which soon became breakfast as he flew off and over the rooftops across the street.

He returned this afternoon, when my son found him squeezing the life out of a dove, in the yard. He quickly flew away with the dove in his talons, and perched in a nearby Mesquite tree. My son tried to get some pictures but most are blurry. The one posted above is the best of the bunch. Click on it for a closer view. I am not sure if it is a Coopers Hawk or a Sharp Shinned Hawk. He is gorgeous but I am not sure how I feel about my bird habitat becoming a bird hunting ground!

The pictures below were taken through my office window of the bird area.


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tina said...

Pretty good pictures. Nature is just amazing.

ramblingwoods said...

Well..if it is the size of a jay, it is a sharp-shinned hawk..the size of a crow, it could be a female sharp-shinned or coopers or..actually, I am not sure what is native to your area. People who have fed birds for years have convinced me that the hawk deserves to eat too and that more birds are helped by the feeders than the few taken by hawks..but it is an ongoing process for me...

Aiyana said...

Hi Dee,
Do you belong to FeederWatch?
They have a lot of info on IDs, and you can record your sightings to help a cause.
I don't see many hawks here at all. I would have thought I'd have more around since we are surrounded by field crops, which bring numerous birds.

MrBrownThumb said...

I saw my first hawk in my area a few weeks ago and I was hoping he'd stay around and make the alley he was stalking his hunting grounds.

Cool pictures.

Kathiesbirds said...

Cooper's and Sharpies are notoriously difficult to differentiate due to their simialr appearance and overlap in size with a female sharpie being as large as a small male Cooper's. In most raptors the females are larger than the males. One tip that helps me is to look for the Cooper's more "capped" appearance while a sharpie is suppose to have a more "hooded" appearance. A Cooper's typically has a more tubular body when perched while a sharpie looks more vase shaped, or slender at the hips. Supposedly a Cooper's has a more rounded tail and a sharpie a more squared off one, but it takes lots of practice and still, even experienced birders can get it wrong. Still, you did a really good job of observing. Each chance you get to see these magnificent birds will improve your skills. I am still learning each time I see one myself!