dinner guests

Yesterday, in the wake of the snowstorm that hit the northeast, I noticed three “crows” perched close together on a tree in the front yard. On closer inspection, one of the crows turned out to be a hawk — by the size of the bird and shape of its tail (squarish), it looks to be a Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus), and not the somewhat larger Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii). It was busy eating the remains of what was probably a small bird — here’s a short movie clip. After dining, it spent quite a bit of time rubbing its face on the branch, presumably grooming itself – here’s another short movie of that process. One of the crows is seen in the photo below (click on all photos for larger views).

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14 Responses to “dinner guests”

  1. Sarah Says:

    What a magnificent bird! I have always had an affinity towards Hawks. I spent most of my childhood deep in the forest and the desert so i learned to recognize them from an early age. This one is really stunning. Thank you for sharing your photo.

  2. robin andrea Says:

    I can never tell the difference between a Sharp-shinned and a Cooper’s Hawk. They have similar behaviors and look so much alike. We don’t see them much around here, but we certainly have our share of Red-shouldered and Red-tailed to watch. Glad you have something so beautiful to see out your window.

  3. Cindy Says:

    finally made it over here, have sure missed your words/photos..
    coopers/sharp-shinneds behave differently.. coopers are MUCH more aggressive and will dive into cover for a meal.. sharpies rarely, if ever, will..
    we had a young male sharpie take down a m.dove last week.. it took the lil guy over two hours to finish his meal.. and just like i’ve seen in past years, he only left the beak and feet..
    happy holidays my friend :)

  4. Dave Says:

    Bev, your second movie doesn’t appear to have uploaded properly. It’s stuck after the first second or two.

  5. Dave Says:

    That crow’s a beauty! I’m surprised to hear they would perch alongside a sharpie. I’ve never seen such a thing.

  6. bev Says:

    Sarah – Thanks!

    robin – It was great to find the hawk and crows right outside the window yesterday!

    Cindy – Glad you made it over here for a visit! (-:

    Dave – Thanks for letting me know about the movie. I guess there was somthing wrong with the original file, so I remade the movie and have posted it under a new URL — hope it works now as it’s kind of an interesting clip. I was a little surprised when I found the hawk perched between the two crows. I don’t think they were any mor ethan about 6 feet apart. The crows seemed to be watching the hawk — I’d say they were hoping the hawk would drop it’s prey.

  7. Peter Says:

    Great shots and video, learned somehing new as usual. Hope the storm was easy on you (that was alot of snow we had!)

    Merry Christmas.

  8. Dave Says:


    Do you participate in the Christmas Bird Count?

  9. bev Says:

    Peter – Thanks! We did have a lot of snow. Luckily, we have a local farmer who does a super job of cleaning up our lane so it’s not too bad! (-:

    Dave – I’ve done backyard bird counts and posted results to the Cornell site a few times over the years, but that’s about it.

  10. am Says:

    The Sharp-Shinned Hawk image reads as poetry. I love this photo. The film clips are so clear. I can feel the cold day and the warmth of the hawk and its food. Just like being there.

  11. Cathy Wilson Says:

    Bev – Beautiful picture of that Sharpie. The movie is wonderful. I, too, have been intrigued by the casual attitude displayed by my Blue jays and Cardinals who sat in the forsythia and lilac bush after a Cooper’s Hawk had made yet another unsuccessful try for a sparrow. They sat within a few feet of it and actually darted on and off the feeder as he sat disconsolately reconsidering his failed efforts.

  12. Dave Neads Says:

    Just found your site the other day. Your pics are really superb. I especially love the California coast. Its been a few years, your photos brought me right back.

    Last time I was on the Queen Charlotte Islands, we camped on a lava shelf that was undercut by the ocean. The surf boomed 24/7, complete with major blowholes. The ground literally shook beneath us as the big swells pounded home.

    I too, really enjoy the natural world. Living in an interior dry climate has its own special ecosytem associations and elements.

    I’m adding you to my blogroll


  13. firefly Says:

    Great video! We have both Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks visiting the yard for songbirds (between three and four food stations and fairly good cover, tall hedges and trees on both sides). That definitely looks like a sharp-shinned, judging by the red feathers under the wings in the first video.

    I’ve seen hawks fly right into and through the hedge for birds. Last year we had one of each, but this year I’ve only seen the sharp-shinned.

    It’s unnerving to find a big pile of plucked feathers and little bits of blood on the snow. Unfortunately we learned the hard way not to feed songbirds on the rails of the deck, after a hawk took (and plucked) a cardinal there the first winter after we’d moved in. The following spring I found the poor thing’s beak under a shrub in the garden.

    Now when I spread seed after snowstorms I’m careful to put it where the songbirds have decent cover. Hawks gotta eat too, but I’m not going to make it too easy for them.

  14. bev Says:

    am – glad you liked the film clips — and that the feel of the scene came through.

    Cathy – Yes, it’s interesting how certain birds don’t show much fear of hawks and owls — and in fact, some can be qute antagonistic. Last week, someone mentioned seeing Blue Jays mobbing a Barred Owl.

    Dave – Thanks for dropping by at my blog and leaving a comment. Your camp on the QCI sounds terrific!

    firefly – Thanks! We haven’t had all that many Cooper’s and Sharpies around our feeders in the past, but perhaps this year’s deep snow has got them hanging around.

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