Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday Miscellany-Accipter at Dusk, Quicksilver Eats the Pie and Menaces Squirrel the Kitten, and the Rodentia Squirrels Sit in a Square

A blizzard is coming and the smaller birds have been gorging at the feeders until suddenly there isn't a one.  Not at the feeders anyway, but a glance up and there is the Accipter reason.The tail being either damaged or wet doesn't help at all in this case.  But she's near male Red-tail size and I'm going with a Cooper's Hawk. 
She sees me and when I look down and then up again she's gone.  Well gone from my view but not from the smaller birds as night falls without their making a visible return.
The squirrel square.

This is Quicksilver the African Grey's expression when busted for being on the counter, sitting on the edge of the pie plate, eating the pie.

The expression is slightly reminiscent of how a small child with a hand in the cookie appears facially.  It's the "I just might be in trouble" look.

Though as parrots pupils are more telling than children's are, note that his pupils are expanded at the uh-oh moment.

Now to a moment in which Silver sees himself as the disciplinarian.
Quicksilver and Squirrel the Kitten are companionably watching a Cottontail Rabbit from the front window.
Before long, typically, Squirrel looses interest in one thing and decides to investigate something else.  In this case Silver.  Note that Silver's pupil has radically contracted, his posture shifted and his feathers are beginning to stand, at the approach of the cat.
Silver's feathers continue to rise and his neck lengthens and his head lowers.  
 Silver draws a bead on Squirrel's left ear.  I'm about to intervene when Silver, being a parrot, decides on a more amusing tack.
 He opens his beak and lets out a perfect imitation of me saying loudly and with feeling, "NO!"

 Squirrel snaps back on his bottom and stares. 

 And a moment later they're both back watching the bunny.

The moral?  A confused cat instinctively doesn't follow through on the initial impulse.   And cats do appear not to like being confused.  

Remember Silver's technique of meowing loudly in Pywacket's fact, at which point she'd run under the table and appear to be confused and thinking it over?

It's the same basic strategy

Donegal Browne 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sandhill Cranes Gather Their Kind Before the Snow Flies, Catfish Hunt Pigeons, More Adventures of Pyewackit and Squirrel/Cardiac Plus Is it a Sharpie or a Cooper's Hawk

 I heard the readily recognizable sounds of Sandhill Cranes from inside the living room. 

Yes, from inside the house. They are the loudest bird in the Americas and can be heard from two miles away.

  I headed outside and stared  north in the direction of the sound and stared some more.  Not a crane in sight.  I went back inside.
 Then some minutes  later I heard Cranes again this time from the north west.  
 There they were!   Over 50 of them heading SW!  And it was LOUD!
 And then out of the west came 30 or so more.  Also trumpeting.
The cranes then regrouped.  They sort of mingled together almost as if they were seeing individuals they might know and were greeting, then some formed a line and headed out.  While the others mingled momentarily.
A slightly closer view of the proceedings. 

They're all going about organizing themselves and no one ran into anyone else while I was watching.
Then they began to turn into the distance.

After observation they  appeared to be circling, calling, and drifting to collect all the cranes within hearing distance in order to collect all their brethren they could and be on their way before the bad weather closed in.

The photographs don't really do the moment justice.  Try double clicking on the photos to see larger images.


 Yes, ladies and gentleman, we are back to the age old question-  Is it a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper's Hawk?  

This time, check out the captures from a video from a friend of Sally of Kentucky.

What's your take?

 Yes, it is difficult to tell size.  One of the many inconclusive ways to tell these  two species apart.  But from the comparison of the hawk with the leaves on the bushes, it appears smallish to me.  Plus the legs look twig like.
 But then in this frame ,the legs look a little less twig like.
 Wasn't it our raptor man from Ohio, John Blakeman, who said that Sharpies always look kind of bug-eyed and hyper-thyroid?

But Sally of Kentucky, thought the legs seemed thicker like a Cooper's Hawk and I have to admit that the tail in the center photo does look decidedly curved on the end as she suggested.  A rounded tail being a clincher for IDing Cooper's Hawks.

Any thoughts? 
 Photo courtesy of

A find from Robin of Illinois!  Longtime readers will remember my discovery of city rats hunting pigeons in NYC but this one is even more astounding....European Catfish coming out of the water to nab pigeons.  Click the link below.

Here we have the kitten, Squirrel? Cardiac, playing with a stick jammed in the joint of a canvas camp chair.  See the claws looking a little dangerous?
Check out the instantaneous transformation to Feline from Hell as he spat at visitor Tig the Basenji.  And it truly was instantaneous.  Check out those laid back ears.

A study in cat expressions in the aftermath of a dog.  

One gets the impression that kittens don't hold any one thought for any amount of time. Or really think in a conscious way at all frequently, as they are often totally in the moment.   

Pye on the other hand is definitely holding a grudge.

Donegal Browne