Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Red-tail vs The Crows and Yeah, It's Five Below Zero

5:08:13pm It's COLD, past sunset by a good half hour and into civil twilight. So when I come out of the Dollar Store, having neglected to put on my gloves as it's only 20 feet to the car, all I'm thinking about is getting into the car as rapidly as possible. I open the car door, and suddenly it registers that I'm hearing a whole lot of crows talking about something.

And that something could be interesting.

Therefore instead of grabbing my gloves off the car seat, getting into the car, closing the door, starting the engine, and putting on the gloves--I grab my camera and head for the rear of the parking lot beyond which the crows are up to something in the evergreens.

What are they doing up there?

Everybody settles onto the primary tip of a spruce and ....and what? That looks like a defensive position. What's going on?

I finally check the big tree behind Dollar General, something I ordinarily do automatically when I come here but I think my brain was frozen and I forgot. Sure enough there is something up there that might just be a Red-tailed Hawk. See it?

5:12:02 Though I can still hear the crows calling I can only see one. What now? I look over to the big deciduous tree and start walking toward it . Usually even if I'm this close to a hawk in this tree, she will take off in a NY minute but not so far today.

5:12:02 There he is and he's watching that tree line and not currently interested in me at all.

5:14:53 He's really up there.

5:15:36 BUSTED. He can see me. I completely expected him to take off like most country hawks but he didn't even though I was standing right under his tree. Though it is a huge tree. True he's young, and perhaps hasn't had bad experiences with humans yet or he's on his way through and was urban hatched and human habituated or and it's just late in the day. Whatever the case I suspect he finds the murder of crows a much greater danger than I am. He sticks.

5:16:57 Fixed look

5:17:01 I look but I can't see what he sees. Perhaps the crows are now moving within the boughs of the spruce trees as opposed to perching on the primary tips.

5:17:03 Kheeeeeee

Now a different spot gets a fixed look.

5:17:41 And another kheeeee

5:17:43 Satisfied?


5:19:30 Eyes move along tree line-- A spirited Kheeee. I'm not seeing any crows so perhaps what he's doing is working.


5:20:29 Scanning

5:20:44 Oh ho, one has broken cover and watches crow fly by at 30 yards but is not vocalizing.


5:22:09 Looks kind of little way up there, but we've seen he's got spunk.

5:22:56 Crow goes left to east. The ruff comes up on the back of his head. Kheeee!

5:23:15 Note he's positioned himself so that there are branches directly above his head. It does help anyone from getting a high dive directly down onto the top of his head.

5:23:53 Scans Spruce line.

5:24:08 Sees Crow take flight, it semi-circles towards him but then goes back and keeps flying out of sight. The crows may be calling it a day?

5:24:10 Two seconds later-- Kheeeeee

5:14:13 Checking the Spruce line.

5:24:20pm No kheees for 10 minutes. Things seem to have calmed down.

Still scanning. Back lit by the moon.

5:25:17pm I've been walking back round the tree and it almost looked like he tucked his head for a moment, but I can't be sure with all the twigs on this side. When I jumped out of the car with the camera I didn't bring my gloves and with the below zero weather my hands are really feeling it. Time to head back to the car.

P.S. I went back at dusk the next day and he wasn't roosting here. Much better to claim an evergreen somewhere or with the snow depth perhaps he decided to take a little sojourn further south. The few remaining ducks that were still using the bits of open water on the river went yesterday.


P.S. Took me forever to get his post to go up so there may well be another posted in a couple of hours as things have collected over the last few days. Check back.

Donna Browne

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