A Hawk in the Hand…

…is worth two in the bush (or something like that). Yesterday when I opened the garage door, I was surprised to see this hawk sitting in the yard about 25 feet away. I thought it strange, and wondered if he was injured. I ran back inside to get my camera and was able to take a bunch of pictures as he sat there watching me. I walked a little bit closer to him, but was afraid he’d fly away or, even worse, dive at my head. After a couple minutes he slowly walked across the yard, and then flew up into a tree. He clearly wasn’t injured, and I’d swear I saw him looking at one of the chipmunk holes near where he was standing. So I’m guessing he was just sitting there waiting for an unlucky chipmunk to come out of the hole. While I took these pictures, a squirrel was sounding the alarm from a tree nearby, so clearly everyone knew he was there!

Even with all the angles I shot him from, I still can’t make a positive ID. He’s either a Sharp-Shinned or a Cooper’s Hawk though. This page at Cornell University’s site gives a bunch of ways to tell the difference, but I still can’t pin it down. They say even experts have a hard time identifying these two species, but I’ll put a few more of my pictures below in case anyone wants to take a stab at it.

Our non-avian wildlife are active now too.

The birds and other wildlife around our yard don’t have time to wait for warm weather before starting their, ahem, springtime activities. Time is of the essence. The males are developing their brighter mating plumages and singing from dawn to dusk. I went outside to search out the source of a very pretty song yesterday and was surprised to find that it was a junco; I’ve never heard them sing before — very sweet. And today after dinner we looked out the dining room window and watched two mourning doves do a cute little courtship ritual and then consummate their love. They actually entwined their necks at one point, and at another it looked like they were kissing each other. I hope they were successful; it would be awesome if we get to see some baby mourning doves later this spring.

Ok, here are a couple more of the hawk shots that show different parts of his/her body for identification purposes. Let me know if you think you’ve got it nailed down. (You can click on the pictures to see them larger.)

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