Friday, March 13, 2009

Window Watching

Some days I just have to stay home to do chores and can't run off to the woods.  But I can look out the window.  Here's what I saw today.

Here's a crow trying to hog all the scrambled egg I threw outside for the squirrels.  A crow.  Big deal.  Sure, I see them all the time: picking at road kill while daring each car to hit them, or cawing their heads off in the black locust trees that surround my yard.   And once I saw a whole river of them, thousands and thousands of crows from horizon to horizon flowing in one direction across the sky, heading home to their nightly roost.  But I hardly ever see them approach my bird feeders.   Actually, I wish they would.  They're so smart and funny and really quite lovely, their ebony feathers gleaming in the sun.  I read recently that all the birds are getting hungry now, what with most of last fall's bounty gobbled up.  This crow was certainly making a pig of himself, snagging as many bits as he could until they started to drop from his beak.  The squirrels would dart at him now and then, trying to scare him off.  As if! 

Sometimes I'm amazed at the bravery of squirrels.  I've seen them scurry right up to a hawk sitting on the branch of a tree, acting as if they were daring the hawk to catch them.  Like this one here in the photo.  

A few minutes earlier, the hawk had snagged a bird and was sitting on the ground devouring it.  I took these photos through screens, so they're not very sharp.  When I went outside to get better shots, the hawk flew up to a branch of this mulberry tree.  With its prey.  I was watching and couldn't believe my eyes when this squirrel just ambled down the trunk and stared the hawk in the eye.  The hawk just stared back for a while.  Then it lifted its wings and soared off to enjoy its meal in peace.

What the heck kind of hawk is this?  Could it be a juvenile Cooper's?  We have adult Cooper's from time to time, but their breasts are barred with horizontal rusty stripes.  My hawk book shows the juveniles with browner vertical bars.  Please leave a comment if you think you know.


catharus said...

Yes, that's a Cooper's. Did you happen to see what the prey species was?

Woodswalker said...

I'm guessing the prey was a mourning dove. That's what the Cooper's usually goes for in our yard. It was already pretty mangled when I saw it but it's feathers were soft gray and unspeckled on its breast. However, I did see stripes on its tail. I think.

NatureGirl said...

One of the big keys for telling the difference between sharpies and coopers is the shape of the tail end: blunt and squared off, or curved. Of course, sitting here in the library I can't remember which is which, but grab your bird book and take a gander. This is what my birdie nerd friends use to tell them apart during migration.