Thursday, February 16, 2012


I haven't posted in the past month not for want of bird action to share, but for too much to choose from. Amid new lifers, birding travel, and new species in the backyard, though, one constant has remained my companion - the backyard hawks.

Both sharp-shinned hawks and Cooper's hawks regularly visit this neighborhood, and both have found the bounty of my backyard feeders. The larger, more taciturn Cooper's hawk will stake out a spot in the yard and sit for long periods, hoping for prey to come inquisitively, incautiously, close. The sharp-shinned hawks, and I do have more than one, are less patient and will move from fence, to tree, to feeder looking for the best vantage point for dinner. I've even seen them dive into the bushes while hunting, but the bushes are thick enough to deny them dinner.

A lot of birders prefer to shoo away hawks to safeguard their more colorful, friendlier backyard birds, but I feel much the opposite. Raptors, even small urban hawks, will not visit a yard that is not a thriving environment for birds - otherwise, they'd have no prey to find. I'm always delighted to see them visit, and in the past week I've seen a pair of courting sharp-shinned hawks in my willow tree, so it's likely I'll be seeing much more of them in the weeks to come.

I hope so.

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