Hunter gathering
Saturday March 19th 2011, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

The gorgeous Cooper’s hawks came hunting twice today; I’m getting to where I can tell them apart by size. Male raptors are always smaller than the females.

It had been raining all day but suddenly there was a brief break.

A small flock of house finches was squabbling at the feeder, red-breasted males and brown soft-striped females all vying for the highest spot as always, while four mourning doves below were sharing peacefully close to the window, where I’d thrown a little seed just for them over where the concrete was dry after taking this picture.

All other species seemed to suddenly be hiding.

Usually, the doves pretty much ignore the flighty little finches, but not this time; there was a sudden flash of dash above and a millisecond behind they too took off.

But they are big and they are slow and they are clearly more worth the effort of the hunt (and there’s a reason why they reproduce more often than the others); the female hawk did a tight u-turn right outside this window as she veered after them.

And gone.

Now, if we could just put another window in that one bedroom so I could see through it in the direction the chases always seem to go… (Can’t. Would make those walls less earthquake safe. Not to code. I asked once.)

A little while later, three doves were feeding near me by the window and the finches too came back. A western jay was going after the hanging nutcake, his killer beak long and thick and sharp and sturdy as he jackhammered off what he wanted.

I looked at the little dove below, noted how tiny and thin its bill was, and thought, yeah, if dinner might fight back, honey, you do lose.

Then the view went silent again. Nothing out there but me and the now-downpouring rain, looking out at empty trees. Take your shoes off at the door, folks, they’re muddy.

The male Cooper’s swooped across the yard, long and low, wings and tail wide, raising up at the last second to the top of the fence.  He did the little tail twitch that comes with settling in.

Only–I was facing his way watching him. And there wasn’t a thing to eat.

This would not do.

He raised one foot just a bit.  Put it down. Then the other. Shook a river of water out of his feathers and channeled it down his back. He turned his head this way and that over and over as he shifted his weight again from foot to foot, looking for all the world like a little boy hauled before the principal–knowing I was there but refusing to look up at me, wanting to be the one having it his way.

Dude. You plunked yourself in the most visible spot in the fence.

Suddenly something caught his eye and he dove down the other side, and whatever he was after had to be right there because there is just no extra space at that spot.

And just to the left, I knew, was the neighbors’ garden. Which, they showed me in delight once, being fellow enthusiasts themselves, the birds like to tear leaves out of to build their nests.

My Coopers probably shared dinner close to their own. I wonder if it’s the big nest in the towering silk oak. I wonder how many young they’ll raise this year. I wonder if the Cooper’s I saw perched on the lightpole at the end of Tennyson Street was one of theirs…

My dear husband went out to buy groceries today, the hood on his jacket pulled down low  over his face as he dashed to the car. Twice, actually, after missing an item.  We will now have our chicken soup.

And we have settled into our warm, dry, but empty nest, knowing that baby birds will hatch soon and we’ll get to see them, too.

9 Comments so far
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Who needs TV when you have a front seat for wildlife shows?

Comment by Channon 03.20.11 @ 5:05 am

Empty nests–remember that your kids leave one by one, but tend to come back in twos or threes, or more. In a year, Parker will be giving those hawks a run for their money when it come to entertainment value and surprises.

Comment by lauraN 03.20.11 @ 5:27 am

There’s an article about Mike Tyson in the NYTimes magazine which discusses, among other things, his passion for homing pigeons. He feels peaceful around them…. and to this day he seeks out the birds when one of his bad spells strikes.

Being around birds can have a magical effect!

Comment by LynnM 03.20.11 @ 7:51 am

ah Alison, I can tell you are on the mend — you are back to painting those lovely word movies (picture doesn’t cover what you describe) — so glad!

Comment by Bev 03.20.11 @ 8:58 am

Tucked in a dry cozy place, watching the natural world, and with chicken soup, to boot. Sounds very healing, and I am glad of that.

Comment by twinsetellen 03.20.11 @ 9:04 am

I quite agree with Shannon — who needs TV? Besides, your way there are no commercials.

And LynnM also has it right. I just have to laugh at my Pepper, the resident clown!

Comment by Don Meyer 03.20.11 @ 9:43 am

So apparently today is bird eating day! We are having chicken up here…..

Comment by Carol 03.20.11 @ 2:21 pm

Hoping you strengthen surely and steadily.
Glad you can see the birds :-}
Today was Faye’s memorial, hundreds and hundrends (and hundreds) of people filled the large American Legion hall to listen to the live music and talk about her life while eating great food (I brought peanut butter sandwiches and stayed safe).
It was worth the recovery time it will take to go spend that time with those who also loved her.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 03.20.11 @ 7:06 pm

Oh goodness! I’ve been offline, out of town for days. Didn’t know you’d been ill. Hope you are feeling much better very soon. I so enjoy your descriptions of the birds, and pictures of Parker, of course.

Comment by DebbieR 03.20.11 @ 9:26 pm

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