Monday, February 22, 2016

The Tale of the Squirrels and the Hawks

 It started out as typical morning with one of the pair of the Red-Shouldered Hawk perched in a big tree in our backyard(note the squirrel in the tree behind the hawk in another tree).  The birds and Grey Squirrels paid the hawk no mind at first.  Then one of the squirrels seemed to notice the hawk up in the tree and then...

 He climbed up the tree and bravely headed up the same branch as the hawk was on.  I held my breath wondering what was going to happen next.

He curiously tried to figure out what this hawk was doing in the tree while the hawk stared back.

The squirrel almost turned back but decided to keep going.

 The squirrel got as close to the hawk as he is in this photograph and then seemed to reconsider what he was doing.  After this, the hawk flew off to a quieter spot so it could hunt.  At that point, I thought the story was over but then the second member of the Red-shouldered Hawk pair flew into the backyard.

I'm not sure if it was the same squirrel or another one but whoever it was again seemed to notice the hawk in the tree.

 Again,  The squirrel getting very close to figure out what this hawk was doing.

 The squirrel considering jumping to get a closer look.  The hawk just stared at him probably trying to figure out what the squirrel was trying to do.

 The hawk twisting it's head to get a better look at the squirrel.  After that the squirrel lost interest in the hawk and went back down the tree to feed.  It was an amazing thing to watch.  Why would a squirrel or squirrels show so much interest in a bird that is known to prey on them? Is it curiosity? Stupidity? Something instinctive?  I don't think we will ever know what was going through the minds of these two animals but it was interesting to watch.  What strange behaviors have you seen between prey and predator? Share your experience in the comments or on the Facebook page.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 2/12

Northern Cardinal

 Happy Friday! Thanks to my sister for the great shot of two male Northern Cardinals taken in Rhode Island after the big snow storm.  I haven't gotten out much this week since I have been battling a cold.  Stay warm if you are part of this cold front.  Happy birding and counting if you are doing The Great Backyard Bird Count.  

More Feathers on Friday Post:

Prairie Birder

Bird Boy

Birds in your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

A Day in the Life

Friday, February 5, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 2/5

Great Egret

 Happy Friday and the first week of February! It has been a strange winter(more like lack of a winter) in the Albany, NY area.  This guy was our greeter at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, FL on our resent trip to Florida.

Here is him walking around the sanctuary.  

More Feathers on Friday Post:

Prairie Birder

Birds in your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Have a great weekend and happy birding!  

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

This is My Passion

What is yours?

Photo Credit: Magolleh/Creative Commons Wikimedia
Every birder has a bird that they are passionate about in their life.  It may be small, big, strange, beautiful, ugly or number of other adjectives that describe all the unique birds across the world.  That bird for me is the Bald Eagle.

I caught the bug for birds of prey early on when I went on my first hawk watch at age 8 or 9.  It was run through the local college in my hometown in Central Vermont.  We saw many hawks and falcons that day.   They actually ended up digging up a bottle of champagne buried until they reached a certain number of hawks seen in a single day.  I was hooked.

Vermont when I was growing up didn't have many Bald Eagles at all so it wasn't until I moved to Colorado about nine year ago that I finally got to see a Bald Eagle in the wild.  I volunteered for a group called the Rocky Mountain Bird Conservancy now called, the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.  They have been monitoring Bald Eagle nests since 1986 and have seen the amazing recovery of the population after the banning of DDT.  It was an extraordinary experience and I had found my passion bird.  There is something special about watching the same pair of eagles raise their young for almost 5 months every year.  There were the highlights of watching the power of a female eagle chase off a Red-tailed Hawk, and watching the eaglets fledge every summer.  They clumsily crashed into everything.  There was the sad day when the winds were so strong that the parents couldn't land on the nest.  They ended up abandoning the nest that season.  There was maddening day, I watched an old farmer right under the nest shooting prairie dogs with a .22.  Luckily, the pair didn't abandon the nest that year and the authorities didn't have to get involved.

Photo Credit: Yathin S Krishnappa/Wiki Media Creative Commons

It was hard to "abandon" the Bald Eagles of  Colorado to move to New York but I quickly saw Bald Eagles near the Hudson and Mohawk River near my new home.  I searched for a group in the area that did Bald Eagle nest monitoring but there was none.  I inquired with the Audbon Society of the Capital Region and the timing was perfect to help to set up a brand new program in the Albany area.  It felt good to be out at a Bald Eagle's nest for the first time in over four years last weekend.  Though there was no activity yet it is early and there were eagles in the area.  I will share some of my experiences this season on the blog.

What is your passion bird? Share your own experiences with that bird in the comments or the on Facebook page.  Happy Birding!