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Another shock to the system. October 18, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. And no, I wasn’t watching Emeril. I was sitting here at my computer, writing a blog post about cobbler, when something hit the window next to me with the force of a fastball.

AAAHHHHHH!!!! There went the sixth of my nine lives.

Whirling around, all I saw was a little snowdrift of feathers floating down from the screen. Stumbling to the window, I saw Hawk’s Haven’s resident Cooper’s hawk, who’d apparently just pursued a hapless songbird to its doom. The poor little bird must have flown into the window in its attempt to escape, or else the hawk caught it and was unable to slow its flight before crashing into the window itself. (Hawks strike claws-first from the air, so they need to work up a fair amount of speed to stun their target when they strike.)

The Cooper’s hawk stood on its prey for several minutes, occasionally shifting position slightly, looking down as if to check on it from time to time but making no attempt to start eating. I’m not sure if this is typical—if the hawks wait until they’re sure the prey is dead, and thus unable to escape at the last moment—or if our particular hawk was just stunned from its encounter with the window screen, or was even concerned that I might rush through the wall and deprive it of its lunch. In that case, however, hawks typically “mantle” their prey, covering it with spread wings to keep other predators away, and the Cooper’s hawk wasn’t doing that.

Eventually, the hawk seemed to decide that the little bird was dead, or at least comatose, and took to the air with the poor soul hanging limp in its claws, doubtless heading back to its nest or to a convenient branch where it could enjoy its meal unobserved in a leisurely fashion. I returned to my desk and decided to save cobblers for tomorrow and post about the drama I’d just witnessed instead.

Here at Hawk’s Haven, we love our songbirds. But we also love our hawks. I feel sad that there’s one less delightful little songbird to brighten my days. But I feel privileged that a hawk has chosen to make its home with us. Now, if I could just persuade it to do its hunting farther afield. After all, I’m down to just three lives.

              ‘Til next time,




1. Elephant's Eye - October 18, 2010

Do you visit the new Wildlife Garden blog? Someone is looking for how to serve birds water in winter. I know you once posted about that.

Thanks for the heads-up, Diana! Over here, it’s easy to keep water out in winter, because wild bird stores and catalogues have electrically heated birdbaths and little heaters you can put in birdbaths to keep the water from freezing. I know of at least one solar-heated birdbath, too! Or you can follow the low-cost, low-tech method and keep two shallow pans for the purpose, switching them off as the one outside freezes. Our own approach is a variation on this: We use thick but flexible rubber bowls, which we first discovered for our chickens. When the water freezes in the bowl, just turn it upside-down and stomp on it and the ice block pops out. pour in warm water and you’re good to go again!

2. Gail - October 19, 2010

That would be hard SG~I love the little song birds and cheer when I see them (or other smaller birds) gang up on a hawk and chase it away. On the other hand I want the hawks to survive! I would be glad to send Hawk’s Haven a few very naughty chipmunks! gail

Thanks but no thanks, Gail! For years we had no chipmunks, squirrels, or bunnies here at Hawk’s Haven—the outdoor cats kept them moving elsewhere. But with just one tiny outdoor cat, we now have plenty of fat squirrels and chipmunks of our own. I enjoy the chipmunks, but can’t say as much for those wicked squirrels!

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