Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Well, I think we have succeeded in making a refuge for Sharp-Shinned Hawks. We have had over 40 (known) visits in the last 5 days from the pair (and 2 visits from the Cooper's). Our bird counts went from the hundreds to a dozen or two in the matter of less than a week. Yesterday, The hawks had a very fruitful day, taking at least 3 Pine Siskins from the yard. It's a spectacular sight to watch, but it is awful to see.

It seems our next course of action is to take down all of the feeders for a couple of weeks and let the hawks disperse. We know that they are attracted to all of the activity going on in the yard. That being said, we are in a moral/birding quandary. Do we take down all of the feeders in hopes that the hawks will stop coming around (although, it's truly something to behold)? Or, do we leave the feeders up and let "nature" take it's course? I put "nature" in quotes because we would not normally have the high concentration of birds in the yard if it weren't for all of our feeders/baths/shelters. On one hand, the hawks need to eat, too. On the other, we understand that because we have so many feeders, we are creating a hotbed of activity that might be drawing more hawks into the yard. We don't know what the right answer is.

Anyway, here are some photos from the yard. The very last photo is one that I took of a Sharp-Shinned when she was in the yard. I didn't realize until after I downloaded the photos, that she had a Pine Siskin in her grips. If you don't want to see it, please avoid the bottom pic in this post. Other than that, please enjoy these photos from the yard.

The Red-Breasted Nuthatches (sitta canadensis) always a treat!

A Black-Capped Chickadee (poecile atricapillus) looking for his next snack.

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee (poecile rufescens) preening itself.

One of our regular visiting Anna's Hummingbirds (calypte anna). They always let us know that their food is getting low by sitting near the porch and "buzzing". The only time they make this noise is when their food source is low or getting old.

The Bewick's Wren (thyomanes bewickii) has been coming around the yard a lot more the last couple of weeks. Such a treat.

This Pine Siskin (carduelis pinus) seemed to overshoot his landing. The colors on some of these guys is just awesome.

The Pine Siskins are pretty good at defending their food source. We constantly hear the chatter of the Siskins, telling each other to "move over" or "that's my spot".

A lone Pine Siskin just sunning itself on a feeder.

This Sharp-Shinned is not deterred by my presence at all. She sat there very patiently waiting for her next meal.

She was watching everything in the yard, including the dogs and squirrels.

Then, she flew to the shepherds hook again to see what she could flush out.

She then took off after a Pine Siskin and, unbeknownst to me, nabbed it in mid-air and then landed in this tree with it. I actually thought the Siskin got away, but I then realized that it had not.

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Rambling Woods said...

When I posted this to the Cornell PFW list, I was told it was part of nature...not one I want to see, but nature. I was told that it would be more of a hardship to have a steady food source disappear than the number of birds that will be prey. But in the end, it's what you are comfortable doing...nature is tough and I am a wussy....

New Rambling Woods Site

Sandy said...

Still having computer problems but I am able to get around if somewhat slowly....will catch up later but waving hi...I love that top photo, the way the light hits! wow.

Beverly said...

I think I'd keep the feeders up...making sure there IS cover available. Perhaps think of it as 'culling the birds which aren't up to snuff'? I's part of nature and the hawks don't have it easy, either. Chances are, most of the birds they take will be birds which hang about in great numbers, right?

I was told by Kevin Cook, when I'd about decided to take down my feeders last spring (because of finch-disease and such) that ensuring mine are clean (they are) is the best bet...that the birds feed communially anyway; it's a natural thing. Besides, the naturalist pointed out; they'd just go down the street to the feeders there.

I've had hawks and owls visit...(though not 40 times in a week!), but I wouldn't consider taking my feeders down because of it.

me ann my camera said...

First I must comment on the most beautiful Pine Siskin photos with the spread wings. All of your photos are lovely but the little siskins one really took my notice!

What a lot of hawks you have!! I was faced with the same dilemma last year, but not on such a grand scale as yours. I began to notice s Sharp-shinned visiting several times each day creating havoc with the little Common Redpolls. I felt like maybe I was setting them up by providing food and in turn them being food for the hawk. I stopped putting out food for a while and the hawk went away for a while.

We had a hawk in our yard earlier this week and the Blue Jays alerted me to its presence. I posted it today, I'm not sure if it was a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's.

I hope you are able to come to some sort of remedy to your hawk problems.