Feeding Time

This is the wall of death.

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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.

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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.

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8 responses to “Feeding Time

  1. what lovely photos; I love birdwatching!

  2. What a beautiful bird. Is there any way to treat the windows so they don’t serve as the wall of death anymore? I have had that problem before, and used a fake owl perched by the windows to keep the songbirds away from the death zone. I also relocated the feeders further from the house. I recently had a visit from a red tailed hawk, which perched on my back fence in orderr to eat the baby rabbit he had scooped up from my yard. It was beautiful but gruesome…

  3. Spo – Thanks…you’ll see more of these posts as the spring/summer progress.

    Tater – We’ve tried everything, from no feeders to predator silhouettes in the windows and fake owls on the rooftop, all to no avail. We even tried reflective tape hanging in front of the windows which only prompted our neighbors to start a petition to drive our flamboyant asses from the neighborhood. ; )

  4. I assumed you have tried after lurking through your site and seeing your love for the natural world. Jim and I have a rainbow flag and wind sock out in the summer months, and have caught a little flack, but I also had an elderly woman come to my fence and ask me where I purchased my “lovely rainbow” stuff. hehe! She had a wind sock hanging in her yard a week later, and yes, it was the gay colors flying proud. How was the show?

  5. Is he tagged? Or is that just a ring of feathers around his leg?

  6. Feathers…from a previous conquest perhaps. If you go to Scuff Productions and scroll way down you can see another shot of him that clearly shows there is no band.

  7. my admiration for the fine hawk is tempered by my sadness over the loss of the little bird. sigh. the ways of nature are cruel and heartbreaking. at least it’s a natural thing, though. i am more heartbroken over our destruction of the habit of wild things and the resultant wrecking of the natural order of things.

    these are beautiful photos. i grew up in a house with a wall o’ death too, and at least once a week our lunches would be interrupted by the WHAM! of a little bird flying into the glass. most times, it would lie stunned for a bit, then slowly rise, shake it off, and fly again. i always wondered if, once stunned, any of the birds ever made that mistake again?

  8. HI there. I am chiming in very late…just found your site while looking for hawk images and silhouettes for my blog.
    That is definitely a sharpie. The pencil-thin legs, the “tubular” body. Coop’s are more large-chested and narrower in the hips. Most people can’t get a good look at the tail on any of the accipiters, so the body shape and legs are the best indicators.
    Wonderful pictures of a beautiful bird!

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