Sunday, September 09, 2007

Floating Feathers

When I see the bird feeders half-full and not empty at the end of day, I’m surprised. I’ve been consistently feeding twenty pounds of black oil sunflower every week, in addition to suet, peanuts, and grapes. Not so, this week.


Bird feathers are scattered everywhere around the feeders and pond - so many feathers on the ground that we track them inside the house. What I’m seeing aren’t piles of feathers from a struggle or kill from an owl or hawk. Well, the above photo might be a sign of a fight.



I have wondered if the birds are dehydrated like we have been this summer but they drink and bathe in the pond, so that's probably not the case.


They’re everywhere, floating freely,

and attached to everything.

I haven’t seen a hawk in many weeks but Saturday morning proved they are here during the day when I’m away.


I wanted this to be a red-shouldered hawk (I love them) but it isn’t… By looking at the tail markings, I think it’s a juvenile Cooper’s. Ok, Susan and Julie, I’m ready for my penance. Sock it to me.

At 7:15 a.m. I stepped outside with the dogs, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and quickly but clumsily ran for my camera. The hawk was in its alert mode on my neighbor’s rooftop, about fifty yards away and this is the best photo I could get. I want a lens the length of my arm!

Are pigeons stupid? I think so. While the feeders were quiet and vacant of intelligent birds, four retarded pigeons teased the hawk with their sluggish fly-bys. The hawk’s head twisted and turned with an accurate aim and I knew death was imminent.

I’ve seen a hawk carry away a Mourning Dove once, but I never saw the pursuit. The powerful take-off and skillful flight of a hungry hawk is something to behold. On the other side of that rooftop I am certain a pigeon perished.


Perhaps this house cat is to blame for scattered feathers! I thought about it during her visit late last night and concluded she is too interested in rubbing, purring, and mewing for attention to traumatize birds. She hasn’t visited in several months and while it was nice for a few minutes, I sent her purring hiney home.


Bella got a ride in the back seat of Daddy’s new truck. She’s a good passenger.


She sits still, unlike her sister who scrambles to the window at every stoplight. Her ears tell me she’s concerned about something.


She was worried because she knew her toenails were too long… "Me thinks I'm in twouble."


"P-p-please, no! Let’s g-g-go back home!"


As usual, "Good girl, Bel Bel!" No tranquilizers for her! Chloe would certainly need a few.

No rain. Just a tease from Mother Nature. Sigh...


cat59 said...

The photos of the feathers on the pond are beautiful. However, it is sad to think that something is happening to the birds to make them lose so many. As you said, I wonder if it is the heat, the hawk, or the cat? The hawk I get--they have to eat, too. The photo of Bella trying to avoid going into the vet's office is a classic!

thailandchani said...

Wow... what a refuge these pictures have been this morning. The sky is stunning!



Susie said...

Hi Mary,
Loved reading through your posts that I missed while away. Your photos are always so delightful. I especially enjoyed your post on the police recruits. What training they must go through!!
Hope by now you've gotten a bit of relief from the heat and drought. I know how much you need it..

Carol Michel said...

Those feathers are a bit of a mystery. Nature's struggle take place all the time when we aren't looking.

I love your dogs. They are so cute and full of personality!

And not to rub it in, but... I got over an inch of rain late yesterday afternoon and evening. I'm excited!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

LostRoses said...

I wouldn't worry too much about all the feathers, Mary. Though some can be due to predation (look at that cat's cunning eyes!) most of it is probably due to late summer molt which all birds go through.

Good thing Bella got her manicure if she wants to ride in that new truck!

KGMom said...

Poor Bella--the shot of her having to be dragged in for toe nail cutting tells the story.

JeanMac said...

Wayne's mom's cat narrowly escaped the clutches of a hawk - didn't go out for 4 days.
One day when (silly) Bart the cat ventured out, the hawk was waiting - but the hawk forgot the orchard fence. Cat 1, Hawk 0
The hawk used to get many Mourning Doves - I sure hated that.
Our feeders are filled with frenzied birds - ones who stay the winter.What's with that?

Anonymous said...

Poor bella, off on a fun ride and then surprise! She probably knew something was up! Want to take my cats for me? I have one cat that will, well kinda let me cut hers!

~Red Tin Heart~ said...

Mary, I have been finding feathers around my bird feeders too. I wonder if it is the heat. Your DOG IS ADORABLE.
Thanks for your encouragement Mary, you are always so kind. xo nita

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Poor Bella, a fun ride in the car ending up at the vet's! What a rotten deal!!

I watched a Cooper's hawk chase a robbin through my yard. The robbin dipped over the privacy fence, the Coop dipped too, all we could see was the explosion of feathers.

NatureWoman said...

I love your feather photos! And the hawk photo. Poor Bella. A trip to the vet is never any fun!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
What wonderful photos! Cooper's Hawk is very cool. I love your feather photos. I love feathers...
I too have lots of molted feathers in the yard and in the air...
I so hoped you would have gotten rain. I am keeping you in my rain chants.
Autumn is coming and I know you will get a cool down. Now for rain.
Seeing your pups does make me want to have a fourlegged friend again.
I have to shake myself and say "No!" I will enjoy yours...
Have a great Monday.

Ruth said...

I have never seen a hawk in our neighbourhood. There are too many cats that roam freely. I was sure you would be getting some rain from the latest hurricane.

Susan Gets Native said...

Lots and lots of feathers around is a sure sign of a Coop attack. They hit the bird with enough force to blow the bird apart, and they also pluck before they eat.
Your instincts were good on this one, Mary. The tail is too long to be a RS. And the size of the bird rules out sharp-shinned. It is a juvenile Coop...the eyes are very light yellow instead of red.
I'm proud of you.

If you know who owns the cat, I would take it to them and tell them about all the horrible statistics about songbirds vs cats. And how many mice and rats they eat, leaving very little for owls and hawks. And how cats are in danger of getting hit by cars, getting into fights, getting diseases.
But that's just me.

Alyssa said...

I'm thinking those feathers are from the hawk or other bird of prey doing their thing. Every few weeks we see that in our yard and it is a hawk. I really doubt that the weather is doing that - I surely hope not!

Poor Bella, she looks like such a good girl and Mom and Dad are being very naughty to her. Having to have her nails clipped!! Thea likes going to the vet, but it takes 3 people to hold her for the nail clipping. (She never carries a grudge like our previous dog did though.) Luckily, Garm could care less and takes it in stride.

Oh, I hope you get rain soon. It has to be horrible and depressing.

dmmgmfm said...

Wonderful pictures, Mary. I hope the birds are alright, though.

Anonymous said...

That's one reluctant dog!

dguzman said...

Oh dear, I know that look: the "oh god, we're going to that place, aren't we?!" look. Of course, if it were my kitties, they'd be throwing up and pooping in their carriers--they HATE the vet, and they hate the car. Sheesh. It's a traumatic experience going there.

WOW--if that's a poor photo, I'm a monkey's uncle. (or aunt) You ROCK. Your camera ROCKS. That's much better than my Nikon CoolPix would've done. Methinks me needs a new camera....

Unknown said...

Beautiful shots. I love the one of teh hawk, but then, I love hawks.

smilnsigh said...

Sorry about the no rain.... And here, we had lots of late. -sigh-


Unknown said...

Every time my feeders are half eaten I know a cat has been around. But once in awhile we will get a hawk also. About a month ago after I mowed the lawn and started to water my flowers while my neighbor was mowing a hawk flew in for the kill of a pigeon. We never heard it or saw it. Just he dead pigeon which was not their five minutes before.

I love those photos of Bella. It is amazing how they just know where you are taking them.

Anonymous said...

Bella: verry kissable cute lips.

Jayne said...

Poor Bella. What an expressive face! Our neighborhood calico seems to have mysteriously disappeared. Glad it was before he was able to scarf down some of my feathered friends. Come to think of it, I have been seeing lots more feathers around too Mary.

RuthieJ said...

I love the pictures of Bella riding in the truck and then her reluctant entry into the vet's office. Unfortunately dogs can't read what it says on that doormat and if they could they would probably just pee on it!

Anonymous said...

Funny I came across your blog almost a year after you posted this....I was looking for the perfect pic of a down like feather, I think I have found it the one in the pond.Thank you for sharing!
Amy in Roswell