Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hawks 1, Sparrows 0

This is one of those pictures that you're definitely going to have to 'click' on to see much of anything at all.
A few posts ago, I told the story of this hawk and our swimming pool. After spending much time online and in books, I deduced that it is a Cooper's hawk and not a Sharp-Shinned hawk. Do hawks even have shins?

Anyway, this hawk has been around for a couple months and has basically driven most of the songbirds away. The only birds silly enough to stay around are the English House Sparrows. I could stand to have a few less sparrows around. In fact, I even looked into a trapping them, but then couldn't bring myself to kill them. I nixed that idea.

I have posted of their cuteness, but mostly I just hate them.

1. They are an introduced species. Some yayhoo long ago, thought they'd be pretty to have here in the US. He released 100 birds in Brooklyn, NY.
Here's what the pretty birds do to native birds:

The House Sparrow is quite aggressive in usurping the nesting sites of other birds, often forcibly evicting the previous occupants, and sometimes even building a new nest directly on top of another active nest with live nestlings. House Martins, Bluebirds, and Sand Martins are especially susceptible to this behavior. However, though this tendency has occasionally been observed in its native habitats (particularly concerning House Martins), it appears to be far more common in habitats in which it has been introduced, such as North America.

I've seen this happen. I once found two day-old wren chicks lying on the ground below my birdhouse. I couldn't figure out how they'd gotten out of the nest, and replaced them. I went in the house, and watched a male sparrow go in the birdhouse and toss the chicks back out on the ground!

2. They are piglets! Before I jury-rigged my chicken feeding situation, I would go through several pounds of chicken feed a week. Now, my chickens can dine mostly by themselves and I don't have to refill the feeder but once a week.

3. They poo all over everything and in every thing. That habit spreads diseases/parasites to my chickens. One of their favorite things to do is perch on the edge of the chicken waterer, get a drink, then spin around and relieve themselves. I have yet to be able to rig a waterer that makes that impossible.

4. Back to the idea of them being piglets---they also power through the sunflower seeds and bully the other birds away. The only bird big enough to challenge them is the cardinals.

So, if it isn't apparent, I don't care much for English House Sparrows.

This morning, I heard a loud thump against my kitchen window. I looked up just in time to see the hawk make a mid-air catch of a sparrow. It was amazing!

I grabbed the camera in hopes of finding him in the trees with his catch. They are nearly impossible to find without the help of the local song-birds giving away their location. There is always much commotion from smaller birds when a predatory bird or snake is in the trees.

The picture is so horrible because the hawk was in a very dark spot in the tree. I had to bring up the light in the picture for you to see it at all. I also couldn't get very close. They don't like paparazzi one bit.

I hope to see Mr. Cooper hawk around more often. He's caught one sparrow, he's only got 30 or so to go.

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