Definitely the “mouseketeers”…great story and experiment!
My wife and woke up, got out coffee and went outside to find… no birds or squirrels around!
Then my wife noticed a couple of down feathers floating down from the pine tree. The were a few feathers still floating down from the tree and 4 or 5 drops of blood on the snow beneath the tree. Looking around she spotted a large area in the front yard covered with feathers and a couple little blood spatters. Then she noticed a bird carcass in the side walk leading out to the driveway. It was headless. There was a lone junco sitting in the hedges several feet from it. After fetching a bag from the house I went down and put the bird in the bag, tied it up and it went into the trash bin outside. Within a few minutes all the juncos started returning, then the cardinals and titmice. I could hear the bluejays, but they were over in the woods at the end of the dead end street. I guess that hawk that showed up briefly yesterday afternoon made a surprise visit first thing this morning. My wife gets upset when this happens, but I keep telling her the hawks have to eat too. She says she’d rather they find something to eat elsewhere.
The deer seem to making very late appearances now - as in just before dawn or as the sun comes up. I went to bed around 4:50 AM - no deer up to that point. But this morning there were new “paths” in the snow from both sides of the hedges in the back leading up to the carriage house. The tracks lead over to the pine tree, across the front yard where they apparently stopped to look around for while as there were two or three large areas with foot prints in circles. Maybe I should set up my old DVR & security camera with the infra-red LEDs and film them. I can get great videos up to 300’/91 metres. And with the amount of light from the street lights, color video at night as well! It is a great camera! I’ve taken stills from the videos in the past. (I wonder if I still have those shots with the mosquitoes flying slowly in front of the camera. They looked like a creature out of a sci-fi movie!
Edit: Around 2 PM the hawk returned and parked itself in the pine tree. At 2:13 it’s still there looking around. I tried to take some pictures of it, but the breeze is constantly moving pine branches/needles in front of it causing the camera to constantly refocus on these closer “subjects”. In addition to that, I have to shoot between the branches of the French lilac tree and these are also being moved side to side in front of the subject I’m trying to shoot. More refocusing… After taking several photos, I have one fairly “decent” one to use to try to ID the type of hawk. I did notice that this hawk seems a lot smaller than the red-tails, red-shouldered and Cooper’s hawks we usually get. Maybe this is just a yearly - or a runt. Regardless, it was successful this morning. All the birds are still away but I can hear a few chirping in the trees a short distance away. They’re just waiting for this unwanted lunch patron to leave without being served.
Can it be a Merlin?
I checked out the Merlin and that led me to the Sharp-shinned Hawk. That’s what it is! I compared my photo of its head and back with their photos. Then I compared another of my photos where I got its tail with their photos and they matched - pattern and colors both. The face and eye colors were also a match.
While we’re talking about birds, I have noticed fewer bald eagles and ospreys this past year - although I did spot some on and off. It’s just that there seemed to be fewer than the past couple of years. Some years back I was involved in a restoration project to reintroduce bald eagles into this area. (OMG, that was 25-30 years ago!) Several nesting pairs were put into some towers and the birds did indeed build their nests and had offspring. They returned year after year and eventually their offspring began building nests in tree tops (snag trees mostly). We would watch them soaring over the reservoir and the river. The osprey didn’t need to be reintroduced as they never left. Still, there seemed to be fewer this past summer than before. It could very well be that I was just not looking up at the right time. We were very busy this past summer. But I will be watching again this spring.
Edit: And thank you for that link.
Thanks Jim, I’ve just learnt something today! I’d never heard of a junco (we don’t have them here in the UK) but thanks to a well-known search engine, I now know what one looks like…
Now you know what it is when I speak of the Slate-colored Juncos! Pretty little birds even though they are not brightly colored. The bluish-gray is nicer looking when they’re in the sun. And their white feathers are actually quite bright white. They usually show up in a group of 10-14, but sometimes up to 20-30 at a time. Normally one or two will show up first, with the rest of them watching from nearby hedges and/or trees. Then they just start flying in one, two, three at a time.
Edit: The two doe and the three late fawns were here from about 6:30 to 6:58 PM before heading down to the woods at the end of the dead end street. They weren’t bothered by my wife standing on the porch smoking nor when I stepped outside. Just continued to browse for a while. My wife can’t get over how they weren’t afraid of us. (I know they aren’t. They come up to within several feet of me when I’m sitting out at night. )
I added the Merlin as we had one at the lake that loved to be in the pines and then swoop in to pick up a bird at the feeder. Sharp Shinned Hawk we have here also. My fav to photograph is the Swainson’s Hawk and of course the Bald Eagles.
A couple of winters ago I had thought - at first - I had spotted an owl sitting in a tree on the facing hill across the brook behind my son’s house. I thought it was sleeping. But when it started turning its head and looking around, I realized it wasn’t an owl - I was looking at its chest feathers and they were so white and fluffy looking - it was a red-shouldered hawk. They love to hunt from the trees. It stayed there until it was spotted by some crows who constantly would fly right at it and swerve away just two feet from it. The poor hawk getting harassed like that! I didn’t get a good ID on it until the crows finally forced it to take off and it fly up the hill and right over me as I stood on my son’s deck - with the 5 crows right behind it.
Monarchs are one of my favourite butterflies to photograph.
They never make it as far as the UK, and I only ever see one or two at a time when I go to my favourite Atlantic island… would love to see a swarm of them some day.
Thanks Cagey! A fantastic sight, I’d love to see that (and stand amongst them, that would be awesome).
I think you’ve just given me an idea for one of my holiday destinations…… it’ll have to be next year though, 2019 is pretty much planned now!
From The Atlantic’s photo gallery: Superb Owls
I’ll have to show these to my granddaughter, Eva. She loves owls… has at least 25-30 stuffed owl dolls, owl “piggy” banks, owl pillows, small “talking” owls, books about owls, and more. I hope she doesn’t like expensive cars or airplanes when she grows up!
one more report on the Monarch butterfly:
I wonder if that program asking people to plant milk weed on their properties had anything to do with this… even a small part. I’m sure a lot of people also stopped using a lot of herbicides which was killing the milk weed. I have a neighbor that has had it growing right in front of his house for the past few years - instead of a flower garden… that’s on the side of his house and in back.
I think that may have started for the honeybees, but maybe butterflies too…