Thursday, January 12, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
Sweet innocent Ms. Chicken... recently has been hiding under a bush in the backyard. She holds perfectly still and makes a strange soft whirring sound. This usually signals to me that there is somehing scary in the vacinity....

A Sharp Shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus ) has been to the feeders in the past, taking a few doves and I saw it yesterday in a tree above Ms. Chicken's favorite bush. Ms. Chicken is very smart about these things. She barely blinks an eye and I wonder if the hawk notices her being so still, or perhaps hopes that Ms. Chicken will move out of hiding. The hawk's visual system is so keen I can't imagine her not seeing Ms. Chicken.

This afternoon, one of my neighbors had feathers strewn all over the front yard. I had just left the house and did not say good-bye to Ms. Chicken. I was struck by the obvious evidence of a kill and I had to make sure it wasn't anybody I knew.... Towering above the neighbor's house is a huge four story Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) and just about 5 meters up there were white feathers on a branch. Apparently, the hawk captured a white dove and feasted on it earlier in the day. I was relieved.

Sharp Shinned hawks, after killing their prey (birds), carefully pluck out the feathers. Cats, on the other hand, dive right in, bite the head, and tear open the body cavity... so do dogs. Cats and dogs (coyotes) eat the birds from the inside out leaving an over coat (and smaller chunks) with feathers.... Sharp Shinned hawks like to tear off beak sized pieces of a fully plucked prey.The hawks also like to take their prey to some place where no one will disturb them... like cats... dogs eat on the run (like us) so, the branch full of feathers was typical. Now, did the hawk leave anything behind like the beak or claws ...?

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