All posts tagged hawk

Natasha Sinegina – CC-BY

The other morning in the kitchen I opened the blinds before I turned on the light. It was morning twilight, still quite dark. If not for the snow, I wouldn’t have seen anything. What I did see was out of place. A patch of black where there shouldn’t have been one.

I ran a glass of water and when I looked up, the shape of the black patch had changed. It took me a while to see that it was a large bird standing on the ground at the top of my neighbor’s driveway. It was bending down and straightening up. It didn’t take long to realize that it was probably eating something.

I did some searching on crepuscular birds of prey and narrowed it down to what I thought were the two most likely candidates: the great horned owl and the red-tailed hawk. We have both of them here. The owl hunts at night but will hunt in twilight. The hawk hunts by day but will also work the twilight. I settled on the hawk because its profile more closely matches my memory of the black silhouette I saw against the snow.

I put on my galoshes, fetched the snow shovel and ran a line out to the road, then I walked over to the neighbor’s. The snow was disturbed and discolored and there was a dark mass lying there in the dim light. Some prodding with the shovel showed it to be the head of a small rabbit, possibly a Nutall’s cottontail.

I went back and finished shoveling the driveway, then went in for coffee.


Credit Zatoichi26 – Creative Commons Attribution

A while back I looked out the window and saw a hawk sitting on a fence post. A prairie falcon, I think. That size, anyway. I watched it for awhile, wondering what he was doing there, before I saw movement at the base of the post. It was a squirrel. It was looking up at the hawk, and I could see that it was giving the bird a piece of its mind. It looked like a standoff. The hawk couldn’t get at the squirrel, but the squirrel couldn’t leave.

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Or so I thought. The squirrel bounded away from the post and into my yard. Uh-oh. The hawk jumped off the post and swooped down on the hapless rodent. By this time the squirrel had disappeared behind a garden structure so I could only see the hawk. I saw it dip down and rise back up, but it didn’t have its prey in its talons. That happened a few more times before the squirrel came out from behind the structure, giving the hawk what for.

The hawk landed on the grass and they stood there looking at each other, the squirrel scolding energetically. Then it turned and scampered toward an ash tree close to the house. The hawk jumped up and flew after it, but it made it to the tree and it scurried up and around behind the trunk. The hawk flew around after it, but it stayed just out of reach, keeping the tree between them. After a couple of circuits, the hawk flew off and landed in another tree on the other side of the yard.

The squirrel watched it for awhile, then climbed down the tree and walked over to a spot below the bird feeder. There it searched for sunflower seeds dropped by the birds. It spent a good long time at it.

I caught motion in the edge of my vision and turned to see the hawk swooping down out of its tree. It glided straight and fast for the squirrel, who was still digging for sunflower seeds. Just before the hawk got there, though, the squirrel hopped to the side, evading the talons. The hawk pulled up and wheeled, coming around for another try. Once again the squirrel dodged. After a couple more attempts, the hawk gave up and landed on the grass again. The squirrel gave it a good stern talking to.

The hawk stood there taking the scolding, looking like a kid who’s been caught getting into mischief. Then the squirrel casually turned its back, puffed its tail, and sauntered back to the sunflower seeds. The hawk stared for awhile, then jumped up and flew away. The squirrel glanced over its shoulder, then went back to its foraging.

Nature might be red in tooth and claw, but sometimes the little guy wins.


Credit Zatoichi26 – Creative Commons Attribution

This morning I looked up to see a raptor struggling on the fence. It was a merlin, and it was flapping and thrashing on the second rail up. At first I thought it was killing its prey, but it was soon obvious that it was stuck and trying to escape.

We built the rail fence, but the neighbors lined their side of it with chicken wire in an attempt to contain their undisciplined dog. The hawk had one of its feet caught in the wire.

While my housemate phoned the local raptor rescue society, I went out with a blanket. I hoped to cover the bird with the blanket so it would calm down. I thought its struggles might injure it.

Luckily, in the time it took me to get out of the house, the merlin managed to get itself out of the wire. All that remained was a trace of blood and a few feathers on the fence. I folded the blanket and came back inside.

Happy ending.-)