Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thug at the Bird Feeder

Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, San Diego, California. This little hawk has been staking out both my and the neighbor's bird feeder. He will swoop in low around the houses as if they were the sides of canyons, using them for cover, to pounce on any dove or songbird that is slow to leave the feeder(s). You can tell he's coming by via the explosion of birds leaving the feeder in a wild flutter of wings. They go every which way. Some go up. Some go into the ferns but they typically all get away to visit the feeder another day. Obviously, however, they don't always get away since the hawk is still avidly hanging out. He's figured out that they hang out in the ferns as well. The other day he spent quite some time on the sidewalf just outside the ferns waiting, hoping perhaps, that one of the little birds in the ferns would come out. [Oh can you imagine what was going through the mind of the little guys hiding in the ferns as he poked his head into the foliage?!!!] The brown tinge on the edge of the photo is from me hiding in back on the redwood railing, shooting the picture between the bars of the railing in an attempt not to spook him.

This species feeds mostly on songbirds and small rodents so this is his M.O. (modus operandi). A month or so ago, he swooped over the neighbor's feeder and one of the doves freaked out, flew smack into the neighbor's plate glass door and became dinner. He snagged the dove and carried it up into the oak tree to eat. The leaves were too thick to see the hawk eating; however, I could see the little white, downy feathers drifting down from the oak tree like Winter snowflakes lazily floating in the wind. I felt a tinge of sadness but only a tinge, realizing that it is all part of the web of life. A hawk's gotta eat after all, right?

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