Sunday, December 8, 2013

Outdoors -- The Hawk

In D.C. there are two meanings for "the Hawk".

One is those fast-moving dry, cold weather fronts that swoop in from the northwest.  Meteorologists call them Alberta Clippers.  I call them Migraine Makers.

This post is about The Hawk.  The one that hunts my block.  I saw it yesterday -- the blue jay flew off and hid without giving any notice that the hawk was there.

How I found out was all of a sudden little birds were slamming against my back window.  That window was installed only 3 weeks ago and I wanted to see what the problem was.

There he was, sitting on the back fence on the east side between the shrubs the little birds use as cover while approaching my feeder.  Yellow legs.  Russet feathers.  Stippled breast.

He jumped onto a stump.  He wasn't after the birds, he was probably looking for mice and things, but the birds didn't know that.  Got a good view of the white feathers along the back.  My Audubon book said it was probably a broad-winged hawk, which is why I have suspected for about a year.  One more test.

He did it.  He flew onto a branch of a tree in my back neighbor's yard, tail spread in a fan.  That could have been just for lift.  I had seen almost enough so I stepped out and clapped my hands twice.  Gets rid of crows.

He flew to another tree farther away, tail spread in a fan the whole time.  That pegged him as a broad-wing.  One neighbor thought he was a Cooper's, but he would have kept his tail straight with a rounded edge.  Besides, Coopers are on the decline, and they are gray not russet.

Broad-wings are supposed to be about crow sized and this bird was larger than that so it might have been a female.  She sat in the farther tree for a couple of hours and after she left, it took a couple of hours for the birds to get up the courage to visit the feeder.

She seems to show up only on Saturdays and not until December.  I've never seen the large flocks of them the Audubon book talks about.  But by color and tail configuration, that's her.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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