Monday, February 11, 2008

MY Feeder. Got that?

Clientele is kind of thin at the feeders these days.

This was taken soon after he arrived, in October '07. He's spending a fat winter here.

There's been a little immature male sharp-shinned hawk hanging around our yard for three months now. Soon after he showed up, he bonked himself on the studio window, and I watched him cartwheel crazily into the shelter of our Virginia pines to sleep it off, and worried about him. He seems to be fine now, if a bit tame...a correlation I've made with other known individual window-hit birds. Not sure what it means, but it's happened enough to make me think it's not coincidence.

I think he figured something out in that accident. I think he figured out how to use plate glass to his advantage. He wouldn't be the first to do that, nor the last. He comes bombing around the corner of the house and scares everyone up from the feeders and sometimes one or two birds fly and bonk themselves on the same glass that got him. He's no dummy.

He's getting tamer and tamer. He sits for minutes on end on the feeders now, waiting for a titmouse to fly in, waiting for a junco to not notice him and land right underneath him. It hasn't happened yet, but a hawk can hope, can't he?
Several times we've seen him sitting in one of our little birches, a flustered titmouse right on the other side of the trunk from him. The titmouse dithers and scolds, knowing that it's not safe to break for better cover, but also knowing that the sharpie wouldn't be able to fly through all the twiggage to get him if he stays put. These golden pictures are from October, when there were still leaves. The sprucy ones are recent. Same bird, though. I had a couple of wonderful salons with the sharpie the other day. He came to the feeder twice in the afternoon, just hanging out. He watched me disinterestedly as I shot him through the glass, occasionally turning a withering glare on me.

What a gorgeous little bird, all fluff and needle-sharp talons and a stringy strong body underneath.
Don't let his contemplative look fool you. If you were small enough to carry away, he'd kill you, too.

If you'd like to hear the whole story, in the form of my NPR commentary, click here.

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