Monday, December 29, 2008

Bless the Birds of Prey


Red-shouldered was wary of me. It’s my favorite hawk. I can identify it by sound as a strong and talented screamer.

We’ve been living under clouds, rain, fog, and mist for most of the last three weeks. I never thought I’d say, “No More!” after living through a severe dry spell in North Carolina for three years. Snow would be nice...

When the sun shines, I hit the road. Freedom from the office is delicious.


Song Sparrow perched dangerously close to the Red-shouldered but was saved as I watched the hawk exit the scene, soaring across the pond to plant itself on a rooftop about an eighth mile away. Dang hawk needed a chill pill.

Back in the car,


we met again.

My camera was aimed towards a townhouse second-floor rooftop. There’s not much front yard for a condo-type home so I was quite close to a homeowner's front door, standing on the easement.

What would you think if you saw someone photographing your bedroom story? Curious? Invaded? Annoyed? Yes, sir.


The second floor blinds flew open and a young woman watched me…

What did I do? Instead of shouting from below, you have a gorgeous hawk on your roof!,

I offered a wide smile and waved, Hello, (no harm intended.)

Gulp... exited slowly back to the car, hoping she wouldn't run my tag…
Good-bye hawk, hello feline.


Through the windshield,

cat found a toy/meal

when a Sun Drop delivery truck pulled up behind. I got out of my car and waved him on.


You know what happened next.
The dang cat took a flying leap into the brush. I saw it happen.
Camera reflex score: 0.

Backs to hawks again.

Have you ever heard?

Last week, and again today, I witnessed a very special sight and sound at my house. Stunning. A raptor overhead, soaring from behind, and oh, so close to my head.

I heard and saw the flash of a Coopers Hawk attack low in the brush where the House Sparrows congregate. Its sound is amazing…hair raising…lasting only for one point five seconds. During the first attack, I believe I felt its wind thrust. Delighted, I e-mailed a good friend who described the sound perfectly: Fabric ripping, a quick zipper zip. Very loud. Yeah. That’s it.

For your viewing pleasure, enjoy Thomas at Walk the Wilderness, India. Check out his hawk photographs on this post and scroll to the Egyptian Vulture from Ramnagara, India. It’s a nightmare :o)


Kerri Farley said...

Great shots Mary! That Hawk is AWESOME!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

WOW! Susan's gonna pee her pants when she sees those gorgeous raptors.

I want an Egyptian Vulture please.

Your re-shouldered is fabo! I've never seen one up here.

It's a good thing you weren't wearing a long trench coat when the woman popped her blinds open!

Vickie said...

You are so funny with your thoughts to the woman looking from the window. Awesome eyes in the last hawk image. What a successful prowl day!

NCmountainwoman said...

Mary, I can just see your innocent face when the blinds popped open! Thank goodness you do not look at all threatening. Otherwise, the police might have come to assist you to your car. Glad you got the great hawk photographs.

Thanks for the link to some great raptors. Sun was shining here today as well.

jason said...

Fantastic hawk photos, Mary! I do love a good bird of prey. You really captured this one with all its beauty and danger intact.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Great captures Mary. RSHA is one of my favorites too. We don't see them very often. Ted-tailed Hawks dominate our area.

JeanMac said...

The hawk looks "puffy" - does he have lots of soft feathers or is he really large?

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Beautiful pictures, Mary. I'll bet the woman thought you were a peeping tom---or peeping mary!!!!! ha ha....


Unknown said...

Mary awesome shots. I find it amazing that every one seems to be seeing hawks lately.

Dawn Fine said...

Nice pics the little stories connected with them!

Alan Pulley said...

Nice hawk photos Mary. Just two days ago there was a red-shoulder hawk one in a nearby tree not to far from my house. I was able to snap a couple decent photos of it that I will post later this week; however, they're not as good as your hawk photos!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Great Red Shoulder!
Wow! Hawks are amazing.
Hope you have the happiest of New Years.
I am on a safari...hunting for bugs for my birthday.

Susan Gets Native said...

Good job, Mare!
And getting to experience the wind of an attacking lucky thing.
But please don't get arrested for stalking your neighbors. It's hard to blog from jail.

: )

Cheryl said...

DEAR Mary....The hawk is beautiful and the photographs show his majesty......your camera and you are now one.......

I love the cat shots.....they look quite magical.......

I remember many years ago seeing a young woman on my driveway.....I kept looking at her wondering....
suddenly there was a knock at the door.....I opened door and she strolled in (it was raining heavily)....apparently she did not want to get her hair wet!!!!I was not least you had a jolly good reason to be there (at least that is how I would see it) always give me a smile Mary,

Jayne said...

LOL Mary! I can just see you standing there shooting photos of the top of that house as the homeowner looked on. I would have just smiled and waved too!
Glad your raptor friends are making themselves so available.

Kim said...

Great shot of the hawk Mary. I have never seen one in action but would love to see him scoop us a house sparrow or two from my yard.

HA regarding the lady in the house. She must have thought you were rather odd. ;o)

Dog_geek said...

LOL! You should have shouted, "It's okay! I'm a private investigator!"

We've had so much grey, wet weather this month, too, but it is gorgeous out there this morning! I'm getting ready to head out with the dogs for a long hike!

Peg Silloway said...

You just made me laugh out loud - twice! I can imagine you looking innocent with your super camera pointed at that woman's house...good idea to wave and smile. But that Egyptian Vulture really did it. Who knew there was a bird that looks just like Phyllis Diller??

Thanks, Mary - great start to this almost-last-day of 2008.

Mary said...

Peg - LOL! Yes! Phyllis Diller!

Rose said...

I checked out Thomas' post--those raptors certainly are intimidating! Loved all your photos, too, including the animal of prey we have at our house--the cat. I do hope he wasn't after a bird, though.
Glad you made it safely away from the condo before the police caught up with you, Mary:)

Anonymous said...

I love Red-shouldered hawks too. I don't get them up on Cape Ann.

Many birds have a panic/alarm call, especially for accipiters. The key is to not look for the birds in the bush but to scan the skys for the accipiter.

Wonderful post.

A New England Life said...

Nothing like stalking the neighbors. lol! Somehow I doubt you have any snow coming your way anytime soon.

Can't say that I've ever seen a red shouldered hawk here either. Unlike the Red Tailed Hawk whom I can go right up to almost, he doesn't sound like a patient bird. You still managed some nice photos.

Sorry you missed the cat shot. Dang delivery guy!


Tina said...

Wow what a post!! Loved the pics and the commentary...whew, hope she didn't take a cell pic of you..are you now on u-tube?

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! Great pics. I think I would be alittle annoyed if someone was out front my house taking pictures, but I would go out and ask them what they were doing. This would have been fun if it were my house.

I went to the Bald Eagles nest Sunday. I lucked out. There were people who volunteer for the Bird Observatory there. They had a high powered scope. Sweet talker that I can be sometimes, sweet talked them into setting up the scope. OMG!! Such a beautiful bird.

Well enjoy your freedom from the office and please grace us with more of your lovely photographs. Lisa

Beth said...

The red-shouldered hawk is my spark bird and I saw it in North Carolina. How fortuitous that you had it on your blog today! Love the shots - thanks for allowing me to revisit what got me interested in birding in the first place!


Mary said...

So happy to hear that, Beth! It's a marvelous bird. I understand that "spark".

amarkonmywall said...

Hey, Mary! I just looked up Huntersville and we will be fairly close to each other once I relocate for good. We could visit! Beautiful red shouldered hawk there- nice cat, too. :-) This week I start work down here at the raptor rehab center and we have a pair of two red-shouldered hawks who are being manned for program birds. I'm pretty excited about that. And Happy New Year to you!

NatureWoman said...

Cool pics and just in time for Susan's new group!!

Unknown said...

Hi Mary, In answer to your question a Coopers Hawk is larger than a Sharp Shinned Hawk.
The girls at Presque Isle Bird Banding caught a Sharp Shinned hawk in the mist net. A Cooper hawk bounces right off of it.
go here to see the Sharp Shinned hawk.
you may have to copy and paste into your browser. Once there click the next button for more photos of the hawk.

Kathie Brown said...

Raptors are everywhere right now. Gus and I saw a Cooper's bathing in the water from the Wastewater Treatment plant we visited this morning. A hawk in the water? I've never seen that before! You were brave to photgraph that hawk on the condo rooftop. Let's hope you don't get arrested for being a peeping Thomasina! (Let me know where to send the care packages if you do! LOL!)

Kathleen said...

You sure did have an aedventure in the hood! I'm sure the woman in the window is still wondering what you were doing. LOL


Mary, someday your work must be published along with your voice and anecdotes. Thank you for sharing your passion with us!

RuthieJ said...

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is cool Mary. We don't get them around here and I would be thrilled to see one--especially sitting on my neighbor's roof.
(Too bad about that cat.....Maybe a local hawk will help scare it away)
I'm glad you got to enjoy a sunny day--the sun finally came out here but it's on 2 degrees right now, so I won't be spending much time outdoors today.