Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What a day...

The day started off as many winter days do...
spitting snow. Still, it had started before I left work last night and was to get worse, so I stayed home, as I'd told my boss I'd probably do.

A morning ritual of mine is to sit with my coffee and watch birds out the kitchen window. Yup...that White-winged Dove is still there. Course, it played coy the other day when a guy drove from Crestone to add it to his Colorado list! Sheeshhhhh. Well, at least he saw a Rosy-finch. LOL (Oh and pointed out a Song Sparrow; first for my yard. I've sense watched two here.)

One Rosy-finch, that is. They also play hard to get; and only show up when the weather is bad. And yes...they were here again today; by the several many dozens! Unfortunately, they only stayed a few minutes; sweeping in and out, not at all unlike the great,
undulating flocks of starlings. It's wild to see. I wondered a bit what was spooking them, usually they stay the day. And then I noticed what I imagine is a young Sharp-shinned Hawk...because of the spots on it's back.

You can see, this one is about twelve inches long...which is about the distance from the top of the hook its sitting on, to the top of my
home-made squirrel baffle (notice the liberal use of Duct tape!)

I realize it may be odd, but I do not mind at all the hawks hunting here; it gives me a wonderful opportunity to watch them. Once, I missed the bird, but saw the tell-tail pattern in the snow, when it captures something on the ground. I could see exactly how it must have pulled its wings up and around the perfect was the impression. I might have missed it, but for someone else posting such a picture. I wonder if I could find it again...
Gawd, I do love Google! I found a couple images that will give you an idea of what I've seen. They're from a blog at is not all that much about birds, as it turns out. But, the author apparently got a couple fine shots of impressions raptors left in the snow, hunting rabbits. Wild, huh? That is pretty much what I saw in my yard...though much smaller; Sharpy sized.

I have been trying to keep squirrels and starlings out of the suet I make for woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches. I put 'fat-worms' out for the Magpies, too...but I really do not want to feed the hordes of pigeons, blackbirds and starlings that would come, if I'm not careful of what I feed and how I offer it! Unfortunately, the starlings have learned how to somehow feed from a suet cage I've attached underneath a wooden feeder. They either just lean way over, or they actually hang upside down like a woodpecker! Damn things...

So, I got angry today and brought the thing inside...thinking maybe the hordes would wander off. Unfortunately I must have foiled the dinner plans of one of the resident Flickers! This guy was horribly confused
and apparently decided the hell with it, he'd just have some finch food, instead! If I had a better camera, you'd notice his tongue...lapping away at the tiny opening his bill won't fit into. That's a first in my book.

Later in the day, I noticed yet another little Sharpy. You will notice this bird is likely older; not only is it's back more gray...but it's eyes are that beautiful coppery-red color. What a georgeous bird. One of these days, I'll catch a Cooper's on that shepherd's hook...I'd love to really get a good look at the 'rounded' tail and really how it compares to the Sharp-shinned's 'sharply cornered' tail. That said...this guy does look a bit 'hulking' with that dark cap, huh? Yeah, so far I'm going by size alone.

Sunday is the Spanish Peaks CBC (we'll meet at 8 AM at the Town Park's pavilion on Ryus Street (west of Main Street), if you care to join us). I think this is the 21st Christmas Bird Count for our area...every time lead by our illustrious leader: Dave Silverman! He's awesome.

I'd told Dave about the local Greater Roadrunner who hangs out at the other end of the street I live on. Not only has my friend Polly seen this guy, but a lovely acquaintance, Annie Enke tells me the thing practically lives in her yard! We were not at all sure they stay around 365 days a year...but then I got to thinking they don't fly much, so wasn't surprised to learn they do not 'fly south' for the winter. And then, I notice Annie has a shot of the little beastie on her roof! So...I guess they do fly a bit, after all. LOL

As I said, it was quite a day; on the way up the hill (here in town), I drove past a small herd of deer all beded down in a field by the road. One beautiful, fully-racked buck lay with nearly a dozen does. A couple hundred feet further and two more males with large racks were sparring and kicking up the snow. Sometimes, I just feel so fortunate to live where I can see such things...every day. It's wild!

Annie generously let me post her photo here...I'll include her commentary below. Enjoy!

The roadrunner has the run of the whole hilltop pretty much! It'll perch and sleep on our bikes out front and takes shelter under our picnic table often. I saw it just yesterday so it survived the cold snap. Yay!


DJB's Photo Adventures said...

Hi Bev,
I think your first shot is of an adult Cooper's Hawk. It you will note the red eye and orange breast feathers. Plus the cap is darker than the back by alot. The tail appears somewhat rounded too. The 2 lower pictures of Sharpie's have more squarish tails and the cap color is closer to the color of the back. I am not guaranteeing my id but I think that is what you have. Merry Christmas!

Beverly said...

Awwwww you are SUCH a pal, Debbie; I really appreciate your comments; but I am SERIOUSLY confused.

In fact, I've just posted a 'Shopped' image of the two birds, including an image you didn't see before, I think. Perhaps this will help you see WHY I cannot 'see' the difference in the tails!

Please understand, I'm posting this stuff to help ME learn...I respect your comments and hope you read this in the spirit I intended you to read it.

Thanks again for all your comments. And Merry Christmas, too! Hey, I've got hundreds of Rosies here again! Talk about fun...

Bosque Bill said...

Very nice post, Beverly.

I think it is worthwhile trying to identify every bird, but sometimes I just have to stop and simply admire the beautiful accipiter.

Yes, Roadrunners do fly when they are of a mind. It is not unusual to see one lying in wait in a tree in the bosque hoping a meal will fly in and perch within lunging distance.

Merry Christmas.

Beverly said...

Ahhhhhhhhh, well of course you are right, Bill! And they ARE beautiful birds, are they not?

I quoted the BNA heavily and included a PhotoShopped image of the two birds together in another post. LOL I think I'm worse than a terrier...I want to SEE the difference!

While I know a female Sharpie could be larger than a male Cooper's...I am inclined to think both of these birds are Sharp-shinned Hawks. But then...I do not 'get' the rounded-tail thang. I need to see two pics of similarly positioned tails to understand, me thinks.

Yes, I've seen that You-tube clip of the Roadrunner positively bouncing into the air to snag a bird that was flying by. Facinating... I hope we get a look at this guy during La Veta's CBC this year.

Thanks for the comments; Merry Christmas to you and yours, Bill!