Sunday, 5 February 2017

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Èpervier brun) in our Backyard

     The fact that so many more people are feeding birds than was true in the past, combined with increasingly warm winters, means that accipiters like Sharp-shinned Hawk  Accipiter striatus are ever more frequently choosing to remain here rather than migrate.
     We have been fortunate to have one showing up in our yard regularly.

     There is a smorgasbord of prey awaiting her (we believe it's a female based on size) but so far we have not seen her take a bird. She is a magnificent specimen in prime condition and is obviously making a very good living. Perhaps when she rests here for a while she has recently eaten and is not in hunting mode.
     In fact in the picture below, American Goldfinches Spinus tristis which initially scattered with the arrival of the hawk have returned and are perched in the branches above her. She is glancing up but seems disinclined to initiate pursuit.

     There is an impressive range of species for her dining pleasure, our feeders having been especially active this year.
     Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis is a regular visitor, both male and female, and we see them most days.

     There is a small ground conifer under the birch tree and Dark-eyed Juncos Junco hyemalis tend to hide under it and dart out to snag seed knocked down by the American Goldfinches. But a couple of them have figured out that they can perch on the feeder themselves and get direct access to the sunflower hearts.

     Mourning Doves Zenaida macroura are always present, sometimes as many as six individuals; they are often the first birds to arrive at first light. One of them would make a fine meal for a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

     House Sparrow Passer domesticus attends in small numbers and has shown a particular fondness for suet, but it does not hesitate to take seed also. This male seems to be rearranging his feathers.

     Nuthatches, as everyone knows, are among the acrobats of the avian world, and this White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis seems perfectly adept at feeding on suet by hanging upside down.

     American Goldfinch is by far the most numerous species we have at the feeders, sometimes as many as thirty all jousting for position and squabbling as they are wont to do. They seem to have remained yellower than normal all winter and look quite wonderful against a snowy backdrop.

     Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus is never far away and feeds on every feeder at one time or another. This species bred in one of our nest boxes last year and a couple of times I have seen them apparently checking it out. Perhaps this is just casual behaviour with no specific meaning, for it seems far too early for pair bonds to have been cemented, let alone to have nest selection underway.

     Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus has never been a regular visitor to our yard so we were especially delighted when this male showed up one day. Fortunately Miriam had her camera at the ready and was able to memorialize the visit.

      And so we have a real cross section of our winter species coming to the garden and we are happy to see them all, not the least of which is our "very own" Sharp-shinned hawk.

     I hope to be looking out the window when she arrives today.  


  1. What a beautiful birds, completely different than Polish species! I'm ipressed. Greetings!

  2. Colorful birds are passing by in your garden; and beautiful pictures you show us.
    The hawk is really special. Remarkable that it isn't hungry at all.

    Best regards, Corrie

  3. Beautiful birds and they are all admirable. Cardinals amaze me colors. Regards.

  4. Una serie fantástica, unos pájaros realmente bellos. Enhorabuena para Miriam y para ti, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  5. Hello. There are a lot of really magnificent birds. Thank you for your lovely photos.

  6. Hi Both and what a spectacular bird to open with, she's a real beauty., cracking images Miriam. As I have said before the Northern Cardinals are really stunning. For saying these are all in your garden, you are most certainly giving Richards garden birds a run for the money. All the best, John

  7. Hello David,
    Sharp-shinned Hawk is splendid, yes he is not angry.
    It is strange that the other birds come to eat in his presence?
    I love the Northen Cardinal, Junco and Morning Dove! The photos are very beautiful !!!
    Your goldfinch is beautiful in yellow.
    Superb bird population David

  8. Great pix from a backyard. Excellent views of that hawk!

  9. The Cardinal is ever so pretty, the colours are magical.

  10. Must be great to have these birds 'on tap'.............

  11. Hi David,
    your photos of the hawk are stunning and gorgeous ! But the little birds are also lovely and beautiful.
    Best regards, Synnöve

  12. Hi David.

    Beautiful pictures will show you of the different beautiful birds.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  13. Scrolling up and down, oohing and aahing, and wondering what kind of lenses you and Miriam use. Great photos!

    Birthday wishes to Canada too! I have always thought that Canada and Finland are rather similar, only everything is bigger and more handsome in Canada. :)

    1. Hi Sara: Whenever I see pictures from Finland the similarity is quite remarkable. And thanks - on behalf of the whole country - for your 150th Birthday wishes!

  14. Wow this is beautiful David.
    Splendour in the Raptor.
    Although the other also nice to see.
    Greetings Tinie

  15. Excellent photography, thanks David. And to Miriam, they are really really beautiful.

  16. Beautiful birds !!!! Fantastic photos from your backyard !!

  17. From the back she could be a Sparrowhawk. These two species are so closely related in many ways, especially their (separate) adaptation to using bird feeders as a source of food. Looks cold there David. Just rain here.

  18. Your photos of these lovely birds are fabulous David. Thank you so much for brightening up my morning :)

  19. Wow,amazing post,superb photography,well done to the both of you.
    Love to spend an hour or two in your back yard,must be like paradise.

  20. A delightful collection of garden birds, and resultant images, David (and Miriam!). The Sharp-shinned Hawk is particularly special. I'm pleased to hear that someone is having a good garden bird winter - ours has been a bit disappointing. Usually, we'd have been seeing Redpoll, Siskin, and Brambling on a daily basis, but not a single sight of one this year, although all three species put in a much earlier than usual (albeit brief) appearance at the start of winter. Perhaps the weather drove them further south, and we'll get them later on their journey back north. Fingers crossed!

    Love to you both - - Richard

  21. Hello David, what a Delight to see you have such special birds visiting your garden and last but not least the Hawk. The photos are most wonderful. Thank you again for your support and concern.

  22. Thanks for your visit, David, it has been a pleasure to find your blog and meet new birds. Greetings from Asturias (Spain).

  23. WELL, YES !!! A real Hawk in your own garden !!!! Wow! Truly amazing is that.
    But the other birds that shows you are beautiful to see in this psot. These beautiful birds are unfortunately not in the Netherlands and I enjoy also double your foot with these beautiful birds. My compliments.

  24. That's a very handsome raptor. You do have a great collection coming to your garden.

  25. The colour in these birds is so wonderful.
    Great photo's again, thank you

    All the best Jan

  26. Beautiful raptor.. Wow!!!..
    Nice shots.. wonderful birds.. Cheers..

  27. Like the show of the white specks on the back of the hawk.

  28. Beautiful birds all but the most enchanted me cardinals. Regards.

  29. I wrote another comment to the same post, but comments I think it is never too much :)

  30. Hello David!
    Sorry I did not visit you more often these days but I travelled to Paris for business (gee I hate large cities!!) and just came back from le Teich where I spent a few days.
    Your post is gorgeous with many different species with the hawk as the hightlight!
    Warm hugs to share with Miriam :)