Thursday, January 26, 2012

Culprit the Cooper's Hawk, Mourning Doves-Doorstep and Friend

I looked out the window and realized there was an odd lump in the Maple tree. A lump that might well explain why there hadn't been a single bird at the feeders all day. I changed windows.

Indeed... the likely culprit. Flash! She was gone. Typical of my having seen mostly tail feathers lately. That is until a few seconds later when I looked out the patio door.

Well, well, Culprit the Cooper's Hawk is sitting on the bird bath. She'd looked straight at me earlier, I know. Could Culprit be slightly human habituated? That would be new.

Notice how her far left tail feather and also the far right are shorter then their neighbors. And the second in slightly shorter than its neighbor towards center and the feathers progress towards the center. (Except where it is slightly separated.) That's a field mark for a Cooper's as the gradation makes the rounded tail when spread that is typical of the species.

She decides to have a drink.

She's dying for one of the many sparrows inhabiting the Sparrow Pile to make a break for it.

She tenses.

Then suddenly flap jumps to another edge.

Still no sparrow is startled enough to leave their twig refuge.

She looks down fixedly.

Back to the sparrows. Still no joy.

Back down. You'd think there was something unusual down there.

Back to the sparrow pile.

It almost appears as if something is moving down there that I can't see.

See what I mean?

Now what? Is she possibly standing on the bath to warm her feet?

Whoa! She gives me a challenging look.

Does a wing flap spin...

...lands and settles...

...and gives me the back of her head no less. I don't appear to be much of a threat in her mind, do I?

Back down to the water.

Another drink.

Pause to check the neighbor's bird feeder.



Out waiting sparrows must be very thirsty work.

She tenses.

Then back to scanning.

The branches of the maple...

The park....

And Culprit is gone!

Well not really gone as there isn't a flight by anyone for a seed meal until dusk.

And then just as the sun was going down, I looked out and saw something I hadn't seen for awhile and as Culprit has been haunting the feeders I'd begun to worry. The Mourning Dove pair, Doorstep and Friend were sitting warming themselves on the bath before roosting, watching the sunset together as they have on many a winter's evening for years.

Donegal Browne

P.S. Remember yesterday I pointed out the Cornell Lab's, All About Birds, site had said that a Ring-necked Duck had a chestnut neck ring in one paragraph and in another that it was purple?

I checked today and they've corrected it. :)


Julia G said...

Great photos of Culprit the Cooper's Hawk's visit! We also have a Cooper's Hawk that makes the rounds of the neighborhood birdfeeders. I used to feel somewhat guilty about putting out birdseed and luring songbirds to their occasional doom. Then I rationalized that it was better to feed the birds, especially in harsh winter conditions, and have enough fat birds to attract a predator or two.

Our Cooper's Hawk is quite shy of humans and has defied all my attempts to photograph her. Sometimes she perches in plain view on the back fence, surveying several backyards. Other times she is almost invisible, lurking in the branches of the tree next to the feeder, only her striped tail giving her away if you know where to look. And the screaming bluejays!

Anonymous said...

that coopers' looks hungry-concave in the crop--poor baby--someone must die for others to eat!

Donegal Browne said...

Dear Anon,

Yes, I thought she looked hungry too and note I did nothing to chase her away. Though I do always selfishly hope that the visiting raptors don't eat any of the birds I've known personally for years.

Anonymous said...

Your very short story with photos provided me with the myriad of meditational thoughts from beginning to end. Thank you.
I am learning not to judge or pick a winner while watching nature take its course.

Troy Mcgovern said...

We had one in our backyard today.....It was so big a beautiful. Never have seen one up close

Troy Mcgovern said...

We had one in our backyard today...I tried.. to get a pic. Such a large was looking for the little birds we feed. What a
sight to see