A hawk haunts the feeding grounds

The hawk watches the birdfeeder.

Since we put our bird feeders back up a few weeks ago, we have had a constant parade of small birds like finches, chickadees, sparrows, and wrens, and larger birds like red-bellied wood-peckers, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, and blue jays enjoying our hospitality.

But sometimes the absence of birds is notable and I look to the trees for a predator.

The hawk watches me as I photograph him from inside our house.

I know the hawks need to eat too. I just find it horrifying to contemplate one darting down, capturing me with its sharp claws, and flying off with me in its grasp, if I were, say, a small bird, or a chipmunk that frequents the ground below our feeder. How horrifying to end your short life as a predator’s meal.

I saw this happen a week or two ago.

It happens everywhere all the time.

Survival of the fittest.

We first noticed this hawk at 12:46 p.m. I don’t know what time it had arrived.

Nearly two hours later at 2:38, the hawk has slightly changed his position in the tree, but still waits. And watches.

I thought it might be a Cooper’s Hawk, but my good friend and naturalist tells me in the comments below that it’s a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

It’s a beautiful bird.

And it needs to eat too.


Posts and photos about other hawks I’ve seen:

The Red-Tailed Hawk or Arthur’s narrow escape – January 2012
Hunting in the daytime – The Great Horned Owl – January 2012
The Cooper’s Hawk shines golden – March 2012
The big birds were out today – Birds of prey at the VOA – September 2012

Read more about the Cooper’s Hawk at Cornell Lab’s All About Birds.

23 thoughts on “A hawk haunts the feeding grounds”

  1. Wonderful photos. I agree – the circle of life is sometimes hard to see. You know it happens but you don’t want to see it happen. Kind of like eating meat . . . I eat meat, I just don’t want to know the name of the animal.

    1. I feel the same about eating meat. Sometimes I’ve thought about becoming vegetarian, but it really changes things socially and at family functions, and the truth of the matter is that we are meat-eating animals. It’s our nature, like it or not.

  2. Gosh, Christine, these images are stunning. But I’m with you, I’d hate to have a little creature I was trying to feed become the food of another–though that’s how it works, of course.

  3. Great photos. I hate the thought of birds eating other birds. It literally makes my gut hurt. I have an outdoor cat so I don’t put up a bird feeder. The birds still come through now and then though. Nature can be so cruel.

  4. It is a beauty! Sometimes when they linger for a long while, it is to allow a recent meal to digest. I’ve noticed that in our yard.

  5. Hi Christine .. life is life sadly – nature usually sorts itself out – but we tend to mess it up. Love your photos – the hawk is a splendid specimen .. and boy do they have patience! Cheers Hilary

  6. Christine, I think you have a Sharp-shinned Hawk there, not a Cooper’s. Cooper’s are very rare these days but are very similar to the Sharp-shinned, which is smaller (about Jay size). Great photos by the way.

    1. Thanks, Marty. When I get good enough to tell the difference between a Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawk in the field, I’ll really be something. 🙂

    1. My backyard is my seventh heaven too. I really love it here and am so grateful to be so lucky to live here for now.

      We’ve been seeing a pileated woodpecker later. What a treat.


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