Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dinner Visit

What a difference being in the right position with different camera settings can make. Our juvenile sharp shinned hawk has returned -- frequently -- for dinner visits, though with poor success from our menu of finches and sparrows. There is a tree just over our property line that he tends to perch in, moving to the same spot on the fence occasionally for a better view. Still, the smaller birds can spot his immature, unrefined approach from enough of a distance to seek shelter quickly, and he's left without a bite.

Twice today he's visited, ironically once at lunch and once at dinner, neither time to any avail. With a clearer picture, however, there is no doubt remaining that he is a sharp shinned hawk. The pale stripe over his eye is clearly visible, a trait that is lacking in both adult species as well as juvenile cooper's hawks. The thinness of his legs is also startlingly apparent. Whereas some birdwatchers would find his appearance unwelcome and unattractive, I find him noble and graceful. It's a delightful treat to have him so near, though I will refrain from putting meat in the feeders; the buffet I set for the smaller birds is undoubtedly enough to supply food for all visitors, even if not in the way intended.

If you have trouble identifying your own hawks between these two species, I highly recommend the accipiter identification table and other resources from Project Feederwatch. Happy hawking!

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