category: Wildlife

Birds in Flight

Birds in flight are so graceful.  I love that about them.

Seagull in flight

Sparrows are Back!

I’ve had a pair of Sparrows nesting in my back yard for 3 years now.  When I first bought the cottage back in 2003, there were two soup cans painted a hideous aqua, attached to the wooden block.  A heart shaped piece of wood covered the entrance for protection.  I didn’t see activity for three years (even though I’m a huge fan of bird feeding and there are feeders in my yard).  So, by the third year, I decided to take the silly things down and I put the task on my list of things to do.  Those of you who know me, know I can sometimes be among the best of the best when it comes to procrastination.  Which in this case was a good thing because it was soon after that, that I began to see a pair of Sparrows building a nest in one of the coffee cans.  I’ve since upgraded the rusty tin cans that leaked water, last Spring and replaced them with little cottages of their own.

These little birds have become welcomed friends to me and they’re back removing old nesting and replacing it with new materials.  At least I like to think it’s them.  And from the little bit of research I did on Sparrows, it’s a high likelihood that this is the same pair.  I found that Sparrows can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years if in an environment that provides for their needs (they’re sooo living on the right property), will return to the same nest every year, are monogomous to each other until the death of one of the pair in which the other will immediately bond with a new mate, have four to five chicks four to five times in the breeding year and always live in and around the neighborhood they were born, in colonies of 30 to 40 Sparrows.  They’re only predators are Crows and Cats.

The first two images below are from a few days ago.  The last image is from 2007; their first year here.  I love the fact that there are generations of Sparrows living here.

Female Sparrow

Male Sparrow preparing the nest

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Something Sacred

There’s something amazingly sacred about the shrill cry of a hawk in flight.  It strikes the same emotional chord in me that the sound of coyotes yipping and howling across the marsh at night does.  Yet there is something quite terrifying about the sound of a hawk in battle.

This morning I discovered that Big Red has a mate and both were defending their territory (my backyard and the surrounding marshlands/waterways) from yet another Red Tailed Hawk.  Did you know that hawks dive like bullets towards each other, screeching in a raise the hair on your arms fashion while turning on a dime once they’re close enough to fight talons first?  Neither did I.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t run to get my camera.  I thought about it, but as I stood at my backdoor holding my breath and silently praying the intruding hawk would just give up and go away without injury, I realized this was probably a once in a lifetime observational opportunity that I didn’t want to miss a single moment of.  Yes, I’m kicking myself now but I also realize that sometimes you have to just stand in awe without documenting to truly be in the moment.  Though if there is a next time…..

The mates succeeded in chasing the intruder from their turf for now but in doing so, are probably going to miss a meal today because every creature in the vicinity has run and ducked for cover.  Even the crows, who are normally property sentinels, have scattered.  How awesome that I live close enough to the big city to be able to get there in 15 minutes but far enough from it to be able to enjoy the local wildlife and natural vistas.

Red Tailed Hawk

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I see the Red Tailed Hawk almost everywhere I go.  Perhaps it’s because the photographer in me is looking in all directions (including up and down) that allows me the honor of seeing something so phenomenal, that someone standing just below, wouldn’t even notice.  Though that wouldn’t explain my waking up, looking out my window, and seeing this in my backyard………

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I thought the morning was awfully quiet.  Usually I wake to the songs of the Sparrow and Finch and the cooing of the Mourning Doves and Pigeons.  Instead, total silence.  All the other critters were in stealth mode because no one wants to have a run in with Big Red.

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I’ve seen, up close and personal, what Big Red can do when he hits his prey at 60mph.  It’s not pretty.

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He can drop from the sky like a projected missile and be on top of his prey before his prey has even thought about trying to escape……

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Being me, I once tried to rescue a hapless Pigeon that Big Red had just cannonballed onto.  It was a mistake that I’ll never make again.  I only succeeded in forcing Big Red into a nearby tree and causing the Pigeon a much slower death.  Once the talons engage, the end is inevitable for anything in their clutch…………

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I have a deep respect for this bird of prey (and a great sympathy for those that his gaze falls upon).  Folks, keep your cats indoors and an eye on your small dogs because this baby would have no problem catching, killing and lifting them off the ground.

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