There was some excitement this dreary afternoon as this Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) first perched on a small tree in our front yard to stake out our bird feeder; then chased a couple of sparrows into a nearby row of barberries (seen here). This time the little birds escaped, rocketing out in separate directions at ground level from beneath the thicket and the predator. A pile of gray feathers beneath the bird feeder a couple of weeks ago were evidence that a Mourning Dove wasn’t so lucky as today’s sparrows. (Image shot though window glass and screen.)
Not long ago, She Who Must Be Obeyed called me to the window. “There’s a hawk up there,” she said, “and he’s eating something!” I took a look and, sure enough, perched on a low branch was a big bird pulling at something it had caught. I grabbed my camera, put on the big lens, and returned to the window. There, in graphic detail, I could see a Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) pulling, dismembering, and eating a bullfrog it had captured by our pond! I shot a number of photos: the hawk standing, the hawk with bits of meat in its sharp beak, the hawk pulling at guts. I normally don’t publish such graphic photos here because, well, it somehow doesn’t seem right. I know, hawks are birds of prey, beautiful, though natural-born killers, and what they do is how they live. I may add a photo later showing a bit more of the action though, over the past week, I’ve reconsidered several times. For now, I’ll post the photo shown above — the beautiful hunter with just a bit of the carnage — and leave the rest to your imagination.
Walking in the Hinckley Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks today, the first day of summer, I spotted a group of visitors looking at something along the path ahead. As I drew closer I discovered they were watching and photographing a hawk! The bird was perched upon a signpost and did not appear to be bothered by the attention of nearby humans. Carrying my DSLR fitted with a 400mm telephoto lens, I was able to capture especially close-up images of the beautiful raptor at it watched for people and potential prey.
At one point a cicada flew within a couple of feet of the hawk and the bird turned to watch. Fortunately for the insect, it was just a bit out of reach for the hawk and, for its part, the bird seemed to think pursuit wasn’t worth the bother.
I left after several minutes of photography, moving around and a bit closer to my subject. Not wishing to spook it into flight, I left the hawk still on its perch from which it could see and be seen.
It was too beautiful a day to stay indoors and do the things I ought to be doing, my thinking being I ought really to be outdoors! So off to Hinckley Lake I went for a vigorous hike with full camera backpack — the extra gear adds to the workout. As I was arriving so, too, was a hawk. A young Red Tail? I eyed the bird, within easy walking distance, as I assembled my trusty camera and telephoto. Warily I approached, shooting a photo now and again since each might be the last before the raptor takes flight. The bird stayed put, looking at me now and again, but mostly scanning the ground and sky. Closer and closer I approached in slow steps. The hawk stayed put. I found I could move around under the dead tree perch, even walking directly under my target. How very nice of the hawk to be my wildlife model of the day! Speaking with a Metroparks groundskeeper who was running a mower I learned he had been watching the same bird. It seems this hawk has learned that after the mower cuts the grass, small rodents may appear and are easy to spot in the now-open area! The bird had made a mouse kill just moments before I spoke with the man. The same bird has been spotted following the mower in another park area. A smart bird, and ready for his close-up!