Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Hawk's Front Yard Visit

Saw a feathered blob sitting in the front yard yesterday, just looking around on top of the snow about 200 feet from the front of our house. Watched it for a while through field glasses--and finally identified it as a probable Cooper’s Hawk--or possibly a young Red-Tailed Hawk. The hawk just sat there in the snow for perhaps 10 minutes or more--then I realized it was in process of killing something. I think the hawk must have knocked a Mourning Dove out of the air--then pounced on it for the kill--with those powerful talons. Signs of the struggle were very localized to the spot where the hawk was first seen. Our urge to run outside and drive the hawk away was suppressed. It is not our intention to provide a buffet for hawks…but they struggle for survival in winter too. We watched as most of the dove's feathers were plucked out--and then as the predator ate practically the whole thing. Very interesting...never have seen anything like it before. After the hawk finished dining, went down to checkout the spot--just a bunch of feathers and some spots of blood--not much evidence of the dove remained. We feed birds in the back yard area, where all the local feathered residents enjoy the seed, suet, and table scraps. Three American Crows (Moe, Larry & Curly) join us for daily breakfast, complemented by many Gold Finches, Chickadees, Dark-Eyed Juncos, many Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Cardinals, White-breasted Nuthatch, Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, etc.--all the standard feathered species found here in the Upper Mohawk River Valley.

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