This is the wall of death.
Many, many birds come to the feeders and trees near where this photo was taken. There can be as many as a hundred birds feeding at one time and when they get spooked, they scatter in all directions as quickly as possible and occasionally one of them flies directly into the window thinking it’s headed for a tree. Usually they see their own reflection as they get closer and just brush the window as they change direction and sometimes they hit hard and die instantly. It’s always a little sad when that happens but it’s even sadder when they hit hard and don’t die instantly. They lie on the deck and try to gather their wits enough to fly to a tree for some protection. Some make it…some don’t.
This past weekend I awoke to find that a Goldfinch had hit the window and it appeared he had died. I made a note to pick her up when I went out and promptly forgot about her. A good hour had passed when I saw all the birds scatter and looked out to find this guy sitting on the shepherd’s hook that holds a couple feeders.
He flies so fast it’s hard to get a good view of the tail to see if he’s a Sharp-Shinned or Cooper’s Hawk but we’re leaning toward Sharp-Shinned.
I went to grab the camera certain he’d fly off as soon as I moved but that obviously wasn’t the case. In fact, he sat there while I put the camera on the tripod and began to shoot numerous photos. I was trying to figure out why he would sit there so long when Mark reminded me about the Goldfinch lying dead on the deck. I was sure he wasn’t interested in the dead bird because the hawks like their meat warm. No sooner had the words left my mouth when the hawk flew toward the house, snapped up the goldfinch and perched in the walnut tree. I looked up to see the finch twitching in the hawks grasp. It wasn’t dead after all. I tried to grab the camera off the tripod but he flew off to enjoy his dinner and possibly share a bit with his mate and newly hatched chick.
In the eleven plus years I’ve been feeding and watching birds here, I’ve seen a hawk catch only one bird and that was in full flight ending in an explosion of feathers; never have I seen one pick up a stunned or wounded bird from the deck. This explains why he returns to the deck every afternoon, not just to see if he can catch a slow or confused bird but to see who might fly into the wall of death.