Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Miscelleny and a Culprit


These are a few of  the mean House Sparrows.   

For whatever reason this flock of sparrows seems much more aggressive to other birds than I've seen other flocks behave at other feeders.  They jump at the juncos, they gang up on the Goldfinch, and they even manage to chase away the White-breasted Nuthatch.  

Nuthatch are not known to be timid birds.  In fact they can be downright hostile if another bird gets between them and the sunflower seed they have an eye on.

I begin to notice that the male House Sparrows appear to sit atop the fence or the sparrow pile being hyper-vigilant most of the time.
 Females tend to eat in protected spaces.  (It isn't that it happens to be snowing slightly this day. ) Ordinarily, as many of you know, when it snows feeders will be mobbed by many species, stocking up calories for a cold moist roost.

It just wasn't happening.

Two days later, on the 13th,  the only bird I see is Silver guarding the white chest of drawers looking territorial  and contemplating flying at my head.  

Digression Alert!  Silver is so intent on playing guard dog he won't even get a drink of water out of his own bowls  which are in other rooms.  Rather he flies down to the floor, drinks out of the cat bowl, and flies back up to the top of the dresser and waits for the interloper. 


One would think that birds don't have much in the way of expressions, their "lips" don't move, right? But they do have expressions.  Look carefully at Silver.  His expressions are expressed with the shape of his eyes at any given moment, his body language and the position of his feathers.

Silver is giving me his "make my day" expression.  

Can you see it?

Back to the issue--The feeders have remained empty.  The Squirrels aren't scolding.  I begin to suspect that there is a hawk skulking out there somewhere. 

 2013-11-15, 12:26 PM

 I hear a Crow calling.  I look outside from the first floor and can't see anything but a male House Sparrow on top of the Sparrow Pile. (photo left) I run up the stairs and there is a Crow delving for insects in the mulch.  

Is the sentinel Crow in the Pondorosa Pine?  Note the shadow of the pines,  right.  I switch rooms and windows.

 Yes.  She's there.  She looks straight at me and doesn't move or call the alert.  

I've been attempting to get the Crows to call me when they arrive.  I run back down the stairs, grab some whole wheat bread in the kitchen, and head outside.

When I come into the Sentinel Crow's view I stop and hold the bread in the air for her to see.  I walk over to the little shelf by the feeders and deposit the bread.  It appears they weren't interested in the beans I'd put out earlier.  Then I walk purposefully into the house without looking  back.

12:29:35 PM  I run back up the stairs and wait.  Looking down I once again notice how much closer the Sparrow Pile is to the feeders here than it was in Milton.  Wait.  Are the Sparrows being more hostile due to some territorial issue due to proximity?
12:30:30 PM  A Crow lands, checks out the bread, and takes a fragment.  Part of which falls to the ground. 
12:30:34 PM  Another piece of bread is pushed into the beak.
12:30:37 PM  She then goes for  a third piece in his beak.

12:30:42 PM  That done, Crow stares up at  me for several seconds and then flies off  photo left, West.

Crow only gets a few feet before half the bread falls into the wood pile.   I can't get a picture because she is directly below me.  I press my head to the glass.  She methodically retrieves the bread.  Looks back up again and then continues her flight in the original direction.
 12:31:07 PM   Position may be the impetus for the Sparrow problem.  The only way to find out is to move it.

Fast forward to 11-28.  The only species sighted were 2 House Sparrows on the top of the Sparrow Pile much earlier in the day. 

12:40PM  I  grab the full trash bag, and go outside to put it in the bin.  Just as I pass the garage, bringing the feeding area into view, a Cooper's hawk bursts into the air, possibly from the feeding area or maybe from atop the Sparrow Pile.  The hawk heads  across the yard toward the corner of the block. 

Drat!  I don't have the camera.  Where did she go?  I can't see her!

I fling down the trash, run into the house,  grab the camera, and run up the stairs.

 And the culprit is found!  She's sitting in the Chinese Elm on the corner, scanning.  I hit rapid fire on the camera, her head turns toward me and she's in the air flying north through the treeline of Spruce.

 And she's gone.  

But I've got her number now.

Happy Hawking 

Donegal Browne