We had an exciting bird sighting today when what we think is a juvenile female sharp-shinned hawk landed on a low branch of one of the birch trees right outside our office window. From looking at my computer screen I simply had to glance up by an inch to get an excellent view of the raptor, who was about the size of a large but slender blue jay and clearly on the hunt for lunch. Diana took the first photograph seen above and the hawk soon took off and swooped around the house. I could tell that it hadn’t gone far though, and sure enough from our bedroom upstairs we found it sitting in the dogwood tree right outside our window. It was fascinating to watch it for what was about ten minutes, as it bobbed and weaved its head observing all that was going on in the vicinity. It eventually took off with speed and we saw it darting dramatically around a neighbor’s shrub, birds scattering everywhere.
We suspect this is the same hawk that spent some time in our garden last week when again we had another excellent view of it. On that occasion it launched a stealthy attack on our feeders but came away empty-handed. After catching its breath in a maple tree it spent some time hopping around in a rhododendron – we assume it was double checking for any possible casualties. What is interesting is how this hawk doesn’t seem particularly fearful of us. In the past when we’ve had red-tailed hawks grab squirrels from our lawn they’ve flown off at the slightest sense of our presence, often leaving their kill behind. Our sharp-shinned friend has almost certainly seen us watching her though, but seems to have a degree of youthful confidence.
On the subject of predation, in the space of a couple of weeks we’ve now seen a mockingbird, a blue jay and a squirrel all without their tails, plus a white throated sparrow without a foot. What could possibly be attacking these creatures in this manner and failing repeatedly – a bird of prey or an inexperienced mammal? If you have any ideas, we’re all ears!