This morning, still hoping for some unusual birds driven down the mountain by yesterday's blizzard, I've been working on ways to feed small birds closer to the house...as a way to deter the blasted starlings and Red-winged blackbirds which seem to desimate all feeders in minutes.
I don't mind the big Black-billed magpies at all, and have a special flat-bed feeder where I toss up kibbled dog food and peanutes in the shell, along with smaller nuts and fruits that chickadees and Blue jays seem to like, too. While the starlings will polish off several entire suet-cakes in a day, the magpies apprently find it difficult to hang their big selves from the little cages. At any-rate, they prefer the dog-food, which the starlings apparently find too big to handle.
I like helping the magpies out; they're beautiful birds which were seriously affected by West Nile Disease. Besides, I'm on a mission now, having discovered a friend shoots them! Yes, he believes it's okay because he says they're preditors and a rancher can kill preditors. [sigh] I suspect he doesn't really hang them dead, upside down by one leg, to scare off others of their kind; but he'd like to. He says they peck out the eyes and soft tissue under the hooves of newborn calves, making it impossible for them to stand. I've seen one eat a mouse, but never attack a cow; but then, I'm no rancher. In my mind, this is just another reason to keep Livestock Guardian Dogs. LGDs, like my Zeus, run off preditors...including Magpies. He hates 'em and believes they do not belong around our feeders. Yes, LGDs will even protect chickens, if that's their charge.
Anyway, while messing around with suet cages so that the woodpeckers will get half a chance at them, I happened to see a very large, white 'blob' high up in the trees. I generally don't wear my glasses around the house, and so had to grab the binoculars...and then hurried out with my little camera. I'm fairly sure this is a Ferruginous Hawk. Last year, about this time, I'd seen what I thought might be one, they're HUGE, but it turned out, apparently, to be a smaller Swainson's Hawk. You can see that story here.
This time, however, I notice that the 'bib', so evident on a Swainson's is lacking here. The bird has a dark head and very light breast. It even seems to have the more rounded tail, at rest, than did the Swainson's. I wonder what you think? I'm sorry to say I scared it off with my photographing, and as I saw it get ready to fly, I tried for a last shot...and didn't make it; no sighting of long, feathered legs. Dammit. Still, having said all this and then reading what Wiki has to say about the big bird and seeing the photos there...I'm lost. The bird today didn't seem as large as the bird last time (which I thought was HUGE), but I am getting confused with all the different morphs and photographs of the birds while young. I wounder if the bird last time was a young Ferruginous. [big sigh]
Still, staying on the lookout, I just saw the tiny little, tan-variety White-throated Sparrow again. Cool, huh?