May 19, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 30 October 2008 15:32
Mostly we look up to see hawks. The other day, Jim Mullen of Ridgefield looked down.
Jim has been finding piles of feathers in his back yard, apparently from Mourning Doves that have been captured, “plucked,” and eaten, probably by a hawk that’s a member of the accipiter clan.
Then, last week, bonk!
“This guy made a mistake and flew into a window of my sun room,” said Jim, who sent along the accompanying unusual views of the hawk, still stunned and on the ground outside his house.
“He lay there for a few moments, then finally came to and righted him/herself. He sat there for about 15 minutes and then was gone.”
Jim’s errant visitor was one of the two “bird hawks” that are common hereabouts — and that sometimes take advantage of our feeders by hanging around nearby and knocking off visitors.
Both Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks can be quickly identified by two characteristics: They are smaller than most hawks and they have long tails (used to help them make quick turns while chasing prey).
But which was this? Our friend and longtime naturalist and hawk observer Ed Kanze provided the answer.
“With not-so-big Accipiters, you want to look at the end of the tail. Fortunately, this photo shows it, and the tail appears clearly squared off at the end. This makes the bird almost certainly a Sharp-shinned hawk. The Cooper’s Hawk has a rounded tail. The Goshawk’s tail is somewhat rounded, also, but the bird is huge compared to the other two.
“These small Accipiters can drive you crazy because the Cooper’s on average is much bigger than the Sharp-shinned, but a female sharpie can approach or exceed the size of a male Cooper’s. (Female raptors are larger than the males.)”
OK. Here is one you have to clip and save for next summer — just remember to put it someplace where you can find it!
“Tell your hummingbird lovers to rub some Avon’s Skin So Soft bath oil on the feeder (top and bottom) and the yellow jackets will not land. The oil does not affect the birds,” writes “Ollie” who sees this column in The Country Shopper in Westchester County. “I use the oil every time I clean and refill my feeder.”
I can guarantee that next August, when yellow jackets start visiting, someone will write and ask, “What was that stuff you are supposed to rub on hummingbird feeders to keep yellow jackets away?”
I would never be able to remember — or find a clipping — myself, so I can understand this happening. And fortunately, we can look it up in electronic archives here. So feel free to remind me next summer to remind you what Ollie said.
Linda Maggs of Ridgefield reported Oct. 22, “Here at our feeders on Ramapoo Road, we continue to have daily visits from huge flocks of grackles, mixed with starlings and the occasional Red-winged Blackbird. Surely, this is late for them. The ground is black with them and of course their appetite is as large as the flock!”
Although many may head south, some members of all three species overwinter in southern Connecticut.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, trip, Saturday, Nov. 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, Ted 203-869-5272, x230 to register, greenwich. audubon. org
Winter Birds and Project Feederwatch, how your family can be “citizen scientists” to help count winter birds at bird feeders in the backyard, Saturday, Nov. 8, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, 203-869-5272 RSVP to store at x221, greenwich. audubon. org
Falkland Island & Patagonian Birds, penguins, albatross and more, presented by Gary Palmer and Tom Baptist, Sunday, Nov. 9, 3:30 to 5 p.m., free, sponsored by the Quaker Ridge Bird Club, at Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, RSVP to 203-869-5272 x221 greenwich. audubon. org
Snowy Owls to Saw-whet Owls: Recent Studies on Wintering Raptors in Massachusetts, with Norman Smith, director of Blue Hills Trailside Museum and Chickatawbut Hill Education Center in Milton, Mass., Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m., free, Bedford Audubon, at Katonah Memorial House, 71 Bedford Road, Katonah, N.Y., bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
Nature Hike at Franklin-Fels Sanctuary in Bedford, with Tait Johansson, Thursday, Nov. 13, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., free, carpool from Bylane Farm in Katonah, N.Y., Bedford Audubon, reservations jebecker @ bedfordaudubon.org, (914) 232-4806.
Bird walks with Luke Tiller, mostly Saturdays at 8 a.m., $10 each; to register, www. sunrisebirding. com/ walks.htm; 203-981-9924, luke.tiller @ gmail.com.
First Sundays, birding at Greenwich Point with Meredith Sampson of Wild Wings, and other guides, meet at the second concession stand, 203-637-9822.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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