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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Sharp-shinned Hawk sitting on our fence right outside our kitchen window. I photographed it through the window.

Not as big as you might think. Sharp-shinned Hawks, we call them 'Sharpies" for short, look very similar to the slightly larger Cooper's Hawk. Note the big eye, small head and the squared -off tail. A Cooper's Hawk would be larger and have a longer, rounded tail, usually with a white terminal band. Both Cooper's and Sharpies hunt other birds and show up at your bird feeder. So your bird feeder becomes a bird feeder for them.

Here's the garden fence of the kitchen garden we made this fall. The fence is only about three feet high.

I always have mixed feelings when a Sharpie shows up. The sight of this small, but fierce hunter is thrilling and un-nerving. I worry about the birds at our feeder and hope they escape. But at the same time I know the Sharpie has to eat also. The feeder birds are often in flocks, with the advantage of more eyes to search for predators. We put feeders near shrubs and brush piles so there's a place to dive and escape a hawk. Usually they escape — the ones that don't, aren't as alert, or swift. It is survival of the fittest.

When I see a Sharpie silently and swiftly take a bird at our feeder it makes me realize what the feeder birds live with all the time, the possibility of quick, silent death. No wonder they're so alert all the time. I don't blame the Sharpie, it's nature's way. Sharpies are not mean or evil, they're just hungry.

Meanwhile, there's an ice storm going on outside how. Much of New England is under a severe storm watch. Since we recently went through a record breaking ice storm here, and we were without power for 10 days, we have our fingers crossed it does not happen again.

P.S. I sometimes change the background color of the blog, and the color of the text, to make it more readable. It's still the same blog. Plus, I just love colors and find it hard to keep my hands off occasionally changing things.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Nature has a cruel side to it,but all creatures need to eat.We have the Sharpie at our house too.
I like the new look of the blog,and know the feeling of wanting to play with colors.Have fun.

Vickie said...

Terrific sharpie photo through the glass. I'm amazed at how clear it is. We do get attached to our feeder birds. It is hard to think about the reason for a hawk showing up and yet its one of the reasons one species is more plentiful than another.

Hope you keep your electricity this time. We're practically afloat in TN with all the rain and mild temps we've had this week.

dAwN said...

Great Photo of the Sharpie..
I feel the same way...I know the sharpie has to eat but I find it difficult to watch them take another bird..
I dont mind when fish are taken by hawks or herons..
Nice blog..and the color is nice as well.

ChrisJ said...

Yes, we have a Cooper's Hawk who visits our feeder often. So far I haven't seen him catch any.

mckay olson said...

I have had sharp shinned hawks attack my feeder a couple of times!

Joshua Cornett said...

The photo of the Blue Jays were great. I have some Blue Jays in my backyard. I think it's a pair. They been comming around feeding on the mixed seeds. I hope they can find a good nesting place in our yard this year. You know? We had a Male Baltimore Oriole come to our Palm Tree this year. He only stayed for 3 days. I tryed to get him to stay longer but he left because he had to migrate. I tryed to keep him longer by buying a hummingbird feeder with some nectar inside but he left before I had another chance. Be great if he comes back next year. I never knew, but the Baltimore Oriole was named after a Baseball Team. All thoughs pictures are great. That Turkey Vulture reminds of the Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures that were roosting in a park I visited a few times.