Saturday, December 26, 2015

Raptors

A Cooper's hawk pays us a visit.
A Cooper's hawk...
We live close to a nature sanctuary so it's not unusual to see less common birds in our yard. We keep a lot of bird feeders around to attract them. It's always especially thrilling to see a bird of prey up close.

The bird above is a Cooper's Hawk, one of the smaller members of the hawk family. S/he landed on our patio lamp a few days ago looking around for a small mammal to eat. 

We were once sitting in our backyard on an early summer evening when we noticed a small mouse exploring some of the rocks in our garden only a few feet away from us. The little creature was entertaining us with his scrambling when WHOOSH... one of these hawks came screaming around the corner of our house barely five feet off the ground. The little rodent had only enough time to let out one quick squeak before the raptor snatched it in a blur and flew off, leaving us stunned at how fast it all happened. The unfortunate critter was barely an inch long. I still wonder how the bird even saw it from around the house.

The bird below landed on our garden fence a couple of months ago. It's a red-tailed hawk. They are frequently used for falconry. If you've ever watched any Hollywood movie that featured the sound of an eagle or a hawk, you were probably listening to the cry of one of these birds. We have a lot of fat grey squirrels in our neighbourhood that like to raid our bird feeders. In a weird way they are also bird 'feeders' for raptors like this who come around looking for the squirrels.

A red-tailed hawk looking for a meal in our yard.
A red-tailed hawk...
Finally, here is something I learned while looking up this pair of birds... a group of hawks has many collective nouns, including a "boil", "knot", "spiraling", "stream", and "tower" of hawks.

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