Friday, October 12, 2012

A New Friend for Pale Male? Cooper's Hawks On the Move and STOP THE POISON

Photo courtesy of
October 10, 2012-  A new "friend" for Pale Male?

October 3, 2012  No crow alert this time.  I looked out and there was a smaller Cooper's Hawk, I assume male, staring at me fixedly.  Seemingly somewhat human habituated he just looked.
He then leans down and I see feathers in his beak.  It appears he has likely nabbed one of the sparrows.  These sparrows being caught is quite uncommon but of late there was a malady that took the lives of  at least two of the immature House Finches.  The bloody flux, as they'd have likely called it in the Medieval era, then appeared in the House Sparrow flock that frequents the stick pile.  The Sparrows appeared to be slightly more immune as I found no bodies or they may just have died in the stick pile where their bodies would remain hidden.  The illness did slow a few down markedly in flight and in response time and possibly gave Mr. Cooper his chance at lunch.

In fact Mr. Cooper here, may have just plucked one of the recently deceased from the sticks.  I can't say for sure. 
Then Coop stopped eating and appeared to stare down into the sticks.   Possibly looking at the sparrows who'd taken refuge out of reach?
Then he went back to eating.
 Then changed position and finely managed to swallow a troublesome bite.
Cooper's attention is then diverted by a man walking in the park with a dog.  But also note who has appeared in the bottom left of the frame.  

A digression- a while back White Belly, a very pretty young female squirrel with a snow white front appeared with her litter of four in the yard.  The young squirrels did much frolicking and chasing one another in the way typical of young squirrels, but one of the brood could be periodically seen with his nose to the ground in a manner unusual for squirrels.  

Sometimes he'd press his nose to the ground in one spot for minutes at a time and at others he'd walk, much like a squirrel bloodhound, pressing his nose to the ground as he went.

His name became "The Nose".

Back to the  business at hand-I have a strong feeling that the squirrel down left is The Nose.
Mr. Cooper continues to watch the man and the dog through the foliage.
In the meantime, The Nose has begun to climb the sparrow pile.
The Hawk takes notice and the squirrel pauses.
 Nose sits up on his haunches and appears to sniff.  The two stare at each other.  The young Cooper's Hawk raises his hackles.
   12:56:26  Nose sits back.
 12:56:30 PM       Then Nose does a swift move up again.
 12:56:32 PM
Exactly what happened next I wasn't sure but the Cooper's took off.  I swung the camera over and if you look at the bottom center of the above very blurry photo, there is a Cooper's Hawk tail and a bit of body disappearing into leaves. I took a burst of photos of which above is the first but didn't catch him again and that's the last sight I had of him.  

Had Nose made a jump at him?  But why would the Coop take off to the SW when he'd been pointing NW?

 12:56:50 PM

28 seconds later when I got the camera back on the Sparrow Pile, Nose was at the top investigating the remnants of the Coop's meal and a second squirrel, another of the litter, was looking at him from the far side.  Had the squirrels been double teaming the hawk?  I went back and looked at the previous pictures for something I might have missed in the moment.  
Ah ha!  And there it was, a squirrel tail protruding from leaves on the left side of the pile.  Where is the rest of the squirrel? Is she upright?  Is there a hind leg behind the branch coming out of the pile?  The above photo is a less cropped version of the 12:56:26 photo, 4 up.  I'd wondered at the time I edited the photo why the Cooper's Hawk was not looking directly at Nose but then again, I'd told myself,  Hawks eyes are so complicated it is hard to know from the position of their heads exactly where they are looking.

This may also explain why the Coop took off to the SW instead of the NW, the direction in which his head was pointed.

I've no idea what would have happened if any of these immature animals had been mature experienced adults.  Or if the situation would have occurred at all. 

But back to the denouement of our story- three minutes later, after the squirrels had vacated,  I went out and checked the spot where the Coop had been eating and the squirrels investigating on the Sparrow Pile...
Nothing left but a few scattered feathers.  Either the Cooper's Hawk had finished his meal, he took any remaining carcass with him or the squirrels did. 

Yes, squirrels are omnivores who regularly eat insects.  But I've also seen them with old ham bones and pieces of scavenged fried chicken.  Squirrels being squirrels I wouldn't put it past them to try for an opportunist brunch of stolen Cooper's Hawk prey as well. 

Today, October 11, 2012  

 11:47:08 AM  I looked out and once again there was a Cooper's Hawk sitting on the Sparrow Pile.  My initial thought was that this one is bigger than the bird on the 3rd, possibly the female from earlier in the season?
 11:47:10 AM
 She peers down.  Activity amongst the sparrows that have taken refuge in the sparrow pile perhaps?
11:47:13 AM

 11:47:52 AM  Then to her right.
11:48:22 AM  Look left.
11:48:25 AM  Look right.
 11:48:33 AM Look left.
11:48:38 AM  Look right.

11:48:47 AM  Look left.  She appears to be patiently scanning the leaf line.
11:48:50 AM  Now instead of looking all the way right, she appears to position her neck differently so she can focus through the gap in the leaves.
11:48:50 AM This change in head position occurred within the same second.  She sees something of interest. She holds.
 11:49:13 She holds.
 11:49:13 She's OFF!  Note she is heading directly toward a double trellis with a multi-branched piece of wood between them.
 11:49: 15  No hawk visible. 
 11:49:15 AM  No hawk visible.
  11:49:15 AM  Then the clever girl comes out from behind the sparrow pile and toward the legs of the glider.
11:49:15 AM   And she zooms through and out the other side.

 Have you been noting the time?  I knew they were fast but this is outrageous.  She was out of sight for two frames.  Came from behind the pile, under the glider, and out again all within the same second.

11:49:16 AM And she flies toward the grapevines very low.
Sorry no photo.  I seem to be having a Google storage problem for photos.  Note, I haven't asked Google to save my photos for me, but they are doing it anyway.  So now I'm not being allowed to do anything with my photographs online for the moment, even though I only store and use photographs from my own external hard drive.

Google has turned into Big Brother and I'm exceedingly annoyed.

Dear Friends,
  With nothing much happening in the nest except reruns of old
footage, things have been quiet in chat. Our hope is that the cam will once again be "live" in a few months with new eggs. For those of you who have not been in chat or on Facebook, there is some news.

Rat poison has been out in the park. There is a core group of about 10 people that has formed. We email our ideas daily and brainstorm.  Adding people to that list would cause each of us to get hundreds of emails a day which wouldn't work so here is what our group suggested as the best solution.

One of our members, Sea, started a forum a few months ago called StopThePoison. We really need more people to help us with this cause. On there, we post the people to contact, copies of the letters already sent, upcoming meetings with officials and what you can do so that Bobby and Rosie will continue to live. We suspect that the poison being used is the same one that killed several of Pale Male's mates as well as putting his last 2 fledglings in rehab.

For the few amount of rats that this poison will kill, is it worth it to lose our hawks? Does it take Bobby and Rosie dying for them to listen to us? They have not so far but we are putting forth great efforts to change this. Please take a few minutes to register on the forum. It may be confusing at first because there are several categories but after a few minutes, it will become clear. Here is the url:

Thank you so, so much. Anything you can contribute, which we'll let you know in detail on the forum, will be greatly appreciated. 

Best to all, Pon