Monday, December 22, 2014

Crime Scene Investigation

7:05 AM, Wednesday 12/17/2014. Patty exclaimed, "Look!".

I looked. Out the dining room window. Over the goldfish pond.

There was a cloud of feathers gently floating down.

Neither of us saw the actual event. Only the immediate aftermath.

It was actually very pretty, the feather cloud seemingly hanging in the air.

Of course, I did not have the camera setup and ready to go. So the only shots are of the results, not the incident itself.

We did spot a suspect, a hawk sitting in a branch above the yard. But it had no bird in its talons. So either it had already stashed the victim, or this was just an assault, and our victim had survived.

Nor did we find a body, just feathers. Lots of feathers.

We think the victim was a Dark-eyed Junco, a common (with upwards of forty at times) bird at our feeders.

Alas, we couldn't stay around to investigate further, as we both had other jobs to do.

It was a windy day, and when we got home the evidence was gone.

So all we have to go on are these pictures, taken soon after the incident.

The next day we had a new visitor to the yard, a female Red-Winged Blackbird.

She was perched in our crabapple tree minding her own business when something swopped down. This something:

Suspect #1

What appears to be a juvenile Sharp-Shinned Hawk, although that ID is tentative. While it did not catch the blackbird, she has not been seen since.

Suspect #2
An adult hawk, sporting some ankle bling. It is either a Sharp-Shinned or a Cooper's Hawk, the jury is still out on that one.

We'll never exactly what happened that morning in December. Or even if it was one of the two suspect hawks.

But we'll be watching. We'll never stop watching.


Update: Collateral Damage

Sadly, it seems that more than one bird was killed when the hawks swept through the yard.

Tufted Titmouse
These two were below our dining room window.

Dark-Eyed Junco
When the hawk swoops through, the birds scatter, flying as fast they can to get away. The reflection of the trees in our window looks like a safe haven, closer than the actual trees that are being reflected from across the yard.

As I mentioned above, at times there are over forty juncos and two dozen or so titmice in our yard. So it is somewhat surprising that we've found only two such casualties. Nevertheless we will be taking steps to make the window less of a hazard for our feathered visitors.

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