Over the line
Friday April 01st 2011, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The male Cooper’s swooped in, scattering the finches and doves without catching anything: he seems, relative to the female, to be a bit of a klutz at this hunting thing. Or maybe he wasn’t really hungry just then, just grocery shopping a bit for his waiting mate. Or maybe offspring? I know the first of the San Jose peregrine falcon eggs is supposed to hatch tomorrow.

Well then. How about let’s take a look around at the real estate here.

Then he did something I have never seen before. He waddled over to the giant elephant ears plant. (Writing that got me to go learn for the first time that the edible varieties are where taro root comes from, although if you have the inedible type it’s quite poisonous; I think I won’t experiment.) Hopped up on one of the trunk pieces that have always looked like giant spiked snakeskins to me, coiling back on themselves a bit. Then over to another; the plant is many decades old and has the density of a sideways-growing tree. Those spikes couldn’t have felt good on his feet, though.

Off, then.  He peered around the corner of the metal trashcan that is the outside earthquake supplies stash; nope, no ground birds hiding around there to flush out now, don’t see a nest. Well, crum, a fat towhee would have done nicely. Hmmm.

He fluttered a few feet to the left and scooted his head under a chair on the patio. Nope, noone here either. He backed out, walked around the table right in front of me on the other side of the window standing there watching him, came maybe two feet from the sliding glass door and regarded me for a long moment. There is nothing in the world like looking directly in the eyes of a wild thing.

There was the wooden box immediately to my left set on 2x4s. They’re under there, I know it! Maybe he heard a skittering away? The hawk leaned way over to the side as if to peer under, to where I knew at least one Bewick’s wren had taken cover.

He straightened up. That didn’t work, try again. He leaned his head way to the side and down again. Just can’t seem to get low enough. And then a third time.

Nope. That settled it. Can’t fit under there.

He half-walked half-fluttered around the far side of the box to look from that vantage point.

Still only a 2×4’s height up on this side. No go.

But just past the end of the box, on the ground, was a particularly obnoxious squirrel.

Now, the biggest male of them is the alpha of the patio.  He preens his tail often.  See how big it is? Fear the fluffy: I rule! He thinks the others eat under the feeder only when he allows it. He is a bully. He is happy to chase off all contenders, till the day shall come that some upstart who’s faster than he is decides to outbite and outfight him and claim dominance for themselves.

Dang if that squirrel–it was like a toddler told to stay in time out and sticking their toes over the line of the carpet in their bedroom doorway, testing to see exactly how much they could get away with–

–well, the little birds skitter away from the seed when that squirrel takes a step directly at them.

So after looking straight at that hawk, remember, the littler by a third of the resident Coopers, for several moments, he took a very deliberately menacing half-lunge at the hawk, who wasn’t quite looking in his direction.

Yeah yeah whatever dude, and the hawk lazily lifted itself up to the top of the metal dolly out of the squirrel’s reach. Don’t harass me, I’m not in the mood.

I think had that hawk been looking dead-on at that squirrel at the wrong moment that squirrel would have been toast right then and there.

And you know that, now that it’s thinking it’s gotten away with it and that it’s declared itself alpha yet again of the porch even over all things hawk, that squirrel is going to try to pull that one off again. When the hawk is hungrier. Or maybe when it’s the larger female.  Or when the babies in the nest are yammering (are they yet?) for food.

Squirrel on wry.

7 Comments so far
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You paint such a vivid and yet comical portrayal of the goings on in your yard – I love it! When I try to be the voice of the fur creatures (or feathered, as in your case here, too) around me, I am mocked – mocked I tell you! But you left me with a great image and a chuckle 🙂

Comment by Cathy 04.01.11 @ 11:30 pm

“Fear the fluffy.” I think if you printed that on a tee-shirt with a cute squirrel picture, you’d sell thousands. Go for buttons, mugs and postcards, too. See if one of your kids can help–or maybe Don’s Cliff.

Comment by LynnM 04.02.11 @ 1:38 am

Sorry, or the full slogan “Fear the fluffy: I rule!”

Comment by LynnM 04.02.11 @ 1:39 am

Hem. Fluffy Alpha should have seen the squirrel carcass that somehow was in the middle of our road… Gretchen wanted it some kind of badly on our walk, but she’s a good girl…

Comment by Channon 04.02.11 @ 4:00 am

We have our own predators watching our birds. Fortunately for the birds, there is a pane of glass between them. It is interesting watching how the birds who have been here all winter are somewhat used to the kiddens at the glass, but the newbies (we’re finally seeing some migrants) are very skittish. We’ll see how they adapt over the summer. (I say that like I believe summer will finally get here!)

Comment by twinsetellen 04.02.11 @ 8:33 am

“Fear the Fluffy”? Did you borrow that from the S.F.Giants? (Fear the Beard).

That alpha squirrel better watch his step. One of these days he’s gonna overstep his bounds.

Comment by Don Meyer 04.02.11 @ 9:27 am

Ohoh… I can just picture the hawk checking his recipe book collection at home, at leisure, and figuring out if it’s going to be squirrel stew, roast squirrel, or gongbao-squirrel next week. For a romantic candle-lit dinner to impress his mate…

Comment by tinebeest 04.02.11 @ 10:24 am

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