Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Daily Diner

For the past few days, between 3 and 5 p.m., I've had a new guest for dinner - a sharp-shinned hawk. He's tried different tables in the backyard, first on the fence, then on the feeder stump, and today in the hawthorn tree, but never seems to have luck choosing what he wants from the menu. On the first day dinner very nearly came to him as after ten minutes of waiting for the server, a Eurasian collared-dove sought to land at the same table but quickly realized that if he did, he'd likely be an appetizer. The hawk seemed surprised at that level of service, but quickly opted for take-out as the dove flew away and he pursued. Thus far, the hawk hasn't gotten any appetizers, entrees, or desserts, but it's not for lack of trying nor for lack of watchfulness.

A lot of backyard birders prefer not to have hawks dine in their yard, but I enjoy the close encounters I get with these winged predators. Only when you have a yard that is rich in birds will you get hawks, because they don't tend to stake out areas where the pickings are slim. Unlike many human predators, hawks don't hunt for sport nor do they waste any of the prey they do catch, and many of their hunts go unfulfilled with hungry bellies to follow. I always feel privileged when one of these birds graces any part of my yard, and it's a thrill to have them as daily dinner guests. I'm sure my house finches, house sparrows, and other backyard birds would disagree, but it's all about finding balance in your life and in your feeders. All the birds, no matter what - or who - they may eat, are welcome at my backyard buffet.


Jen said...

Ha, this is a great post!

Elizabeth said...

There is a sweet little bird that comes to my backyard feeder everyday. He is the size of a chickadee, is all gray and has a black hooded head...Do you know what that could be?

Melissa said...

Elizabeth - It sounds like you have a dark-eyed junco visiting! They're around in the winter, and they like feeding on the ground. Great birds!