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Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buse à épaulettes))

02 January 2019

     Miriam and I were in Kitchener this morning and dropped by Forfar Park to see if we could locate a Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi), a western species that has been reported there over the past week or so. We did locate the bird, only in flight, however, but at least we could confirm the presence of this vagrant.
     We had a pleasant walk through the park, where in the past we have had a number of very agreeable sightings, remarkable for a small park surrounded by housing developments.
     The highlight this morning was a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) perched high atop a snag. 


     Several passerines, clearly unhappy with its presence were trying to dislodge it, to no avail. I would imagine that the hawk had recently eaten because it made no attempt to go after its harassers, principally Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata).



     Red-shouldered Hawks are quite uncommon in winter, but it is generally conceded that the exponential increase in people feeding birds is a significant factor in increasing their frequency. The fact that humans feed songbirds probably means that weak birds that would not have otherwise survived now do so, and raptors like Red-shouldered Hawk find a ready supply of easy prey. In effect then, we are feeding raptors! Red-shouldered Hawks prey principally on small rodents, but will not pass up a passerine, especially a bird not in peak condition, and less able to escape the pursuit of a swift predator.


     The angle at which we viewed the bird was not ideal for photography and it required a good deal of shifting to try for an approach without branches being in the way. In her usual persistent fashion, Miriam managed to get some acceptable pictures despite the conditions.



     I am very fond of all birds, of course, but a special level of appreciation is reserved for birds of prey, especially those that have been persecuted by humans for so long, Red-shouldered Hawk among them. I always find it ironic that many people applaud a hawk if it takes a rat or a snake, but if it takes a bird, especially a pretty one, they agonize over it, and often use epithets not to be repeated in polite company.
     A viable predator/prey component regulates a healthy ecosystem and we should rejoice in these magnificent hawks. Miriam and I certainly appreciated this one this morning.

57 comments:

  1. Maybe it's a good thing feeding birds of prey by protecting weaker birds by feeding them. In this country we are encouraged not to feed wild birds (though lots of people do) but to plant a variety of indigenous plants for them instead. This applies to food not water!

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    1. I can’t think of anything better than planting native species.

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  2. Hawks and eagles and all those raptors are really amazing birds. I once came across a hawk in the woods (this was when I was a teenager and honestly can't remember the species) and we stood a few meters apart, me on the ground, he/she in the tree, and we looked at each other in the eyes for a few moments. At the time I found it is a little frightening, but I clearly remember it and now I think back on what an amazing event it was. I had a bald eagle encounter a few years back that was as unexpected but totally different when the eagle thought about stealing my prey fish on my fishing line (luckily they didn't). I think these moments could only become so memorable with birds of prey. If a chickadee stared at me, which they do when I am out and they want me to fill the bird feeders, it is not such a memorable event. Wishing you a happy new year with lots of birds in it.

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  3. How sad, sad and sad that these wonderful birds have been persecuted by humans for a long time.
    I wish I could see this bird and watch it but I have never met it before.
    David, the photographs are wonderful and very unique. And a Cooper's Hawk is unique also.

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  4. Nice looking bird.
    The photos of it are lovely.
    Have found the plants name, it's a weed in Queensland..my blog now has a link to read about it.

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  5. An absolute beauty. Huge congratulations to Miriam. Predators are necessary, for a whole range of reasons. I really wish that we didn't so often tamper with the food chain.

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  6. Jag kan bara instämma i din hyllning till de stora rovfåglarna som människor behandlat så illa genom historien och för den delen fortfarande gör. Här i Skandinavien har vi inte så många arter men t.ex. havsörnen var nästan utrotad innan kloka människor satte igång en räddningsaktion. Precis som människan är de stora rovdjuren sist i näringskedjan så de drabbas från flera håll, med illegal jakt samt alla miljögifter som hamnar i deras kroppar.

    Kanske kan man se de stora rovfåglarna som reglerare av den natur som vi människor ständigt påverkar, bland annat genom fågelmatning. Livsviktiga återställare av ett ekosystem i balans.

    Mina hälsningar och tack till Miriam för dessa fantastiska bilder av en ståtlig individ som blickar ut över grannskapet.

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    1. Thanks, Gunilla. I will pass on your remarks to Miriam.

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  7. Hari om
    I celebrate with you at this sight - what a wnddrful way o start the year! YAM xx

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  8. Hola David, de acuerdo con tus palabras, son aves muy hermosas y que sin duda cumplen su función. Las fotos son preciosas. Besos para ti y para Miriam

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  9. Precioso Halcón amigo David. ¡Es cierto! Cuantas personas han cazado a estas bellas rapaces sin importarles absolutamente nada. Últimamente parece que estemos todos algo más concienciados y no se cometan ciertas aberraciones que se cometían con estas preciosas aves simplemente por el mero hecho de mostrarlas disecadas en plan de trofeos ¡Qué pena!
    Preciosas fotos y preciosa entrada de año.
    Un fuerte abrazo Miriam y David.

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  10. What a magnificent hawk and a lovely way to start 2019.

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  11. Hi David and Miriam. Starting the New Year with a twitch huh?

    I read somewhere else about Copper's Hawk moving into suburbia and as you say it is hardly surprising given the ready availability of food. Our Sparrowhawk is now as mush a garden bird as a bird of woodland since it can find a good supply of Blue tits, and in my case Goldfinches or even Collared Doves. I must confess I don't mind them taking the odd bird or two from the garden buffet. After all, every one of us has to eat.

    Looks like in the coming days we are in for a Cold Beast from the East, rather than a Windy Wollop from the West.

    Take care.

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  12. Delighted to see that 2019 has got off to a good start for you, and an interesting post, indeed, David. Lindsay berates me from time to time when a Sparrowhawk starts making its presence felt in the garden, saying that I'm providing a ready meal for it by feeding the garden birds. Like you, I am very fond of birds of prey, so I have to be careful how I respond to Lindsay's admonishments when such exciting situations arise!!

    My love to you both - - - Richard

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  13. Great sighting and capture of a beautiful bird.

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  14. Nice pictures of this lovely bird..
    Happy new year..

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  15. Beautiful photos of the Copper Hawk! Your wife takes great photos, David!
    I have never seen photo of it before.

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  16. I love the last one Mirian captured. It had it's beady eyes on you both!!
    A beautiful bird indeed, have a great week :)

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  17. So do I David, love birds of pray and as you say they take only the weak birds and make other species of birds getting stronger. The captures you took are stunning. Thank you for your comment on my latest blog.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  18. A great capture of a beautiful bird.

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  19. Hola David.

    Preciosas las fotos del Accipiter cooperii (gavilán de Cooper). Me alegra también que tú y Miriam pudierais observar al divagante Myadestes townsendi, que voló de la costa oeste a la este de Canadá, supongo que no será un mal viaje (jajaja).

    Un abrazo y FELIZ AÑO 2019,

    Rafa.

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    1. I have seen many Townsend’s Solitaires out west, Rafa, but ironically the first one I ever saw was in Toronto, here in the east, many, many years ago. Maybe one day you will make a voyage across Canada!

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  20. The sun on its breast really made those feathers glow. I know hawks have to eat, but I’m always sad when they take one of my feeder birds.

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  21. Here, in Calif. I enjoy red tailed hawks. They are so amazing in flight.

    Your photos are amazing. I enjoyed your blog, came from David G.will be back.

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  22. Such a beautiful bird, lovely photographs.

    All the best Jan

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  23. Birds of prey are a part of the ecosystem for a reason we may not always understand but it is not up to us to set the way nature works it is our part to live and let live. Lovely photos!

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  24. Interesting raptor, I did not know her. The empathy of people with some species is very true, being happy if these birds capture vermin or becoming furious if they catch an animal that they consider beautiful.

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  25. Hello David!
    Such a beautiful bird!
    Great captures and stunning pictures!
    Wishing to you and your family a joyful and healthy new year 2019! Enjoy your weekend!
    Dimi...

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  26. He is beautiful and it is hard for him to be angry that he feeds on beautiful little birds. That's how it is in nature, although small birds regret. Greetings.

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  27. I think a lot of people get just a little bit more excited when they see a raptor, and this one looks like a lovely bird to bump into, especially in such an urban setting!

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  28. Fantastic photos David, the Cooper's Hawk is beautiful.

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  29. Una auténtica maravilla el Accipiter cooperii, tuvo que ser una gran experiencia su observación, que envidia. Amigo David te deseo un inmejorable año nuevo rodeado siempre de vida salvaje y Naturaleza. Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

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  30. It is tricky when they are atop a branch like that!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

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  31. Hello. Awesome hawk. Hawks and other birds of prey are part of the ecosystem. Everyone have to eat something.

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  32. It just amazes me to see how detailed each and every feather is! How beautiful! And you are right...raptors are needed to keep balance in the forest. Enjoy your weekend! Hope you can visit me today...I saw something really neat!

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  33. Beautiful bird, lovely photos David.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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  34. The hawk is a beautiful bird and I love watching them fly. I'd say Miriam rocked it with getting really beautiful photos and from a number of different angles. It must have been a wonderful walk to encounter this gem.

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  35. What a beautiful creature. Have a wonderful 2019!

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  36. What beautiful colouring it has!

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  37. It is a beautiful bird, and such a pretty face!
    Have a wonderful New Year 2019!

    I am back to my daily routine.

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  38. Hi David,
    It ain't bad to start 2019 with this type of bird. I am also fond of birds of prey so I like to see this one. Miriam has clearly done her best - with success - to make a couple pictures of this bird.
    Greetings, Kees

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  39. Mirian has done very well to capture thes lovely images. Such unusual but beautiful colouring in his feathers.
    Happy New Year and a wonderful year of birding.

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  40. it is a beautiful bird and you were able to get some very pretty pictures. i am never happy when i see any kind of hawk in my yard, but i do understand and appreciate the circle of life. i just don't like when they "circle" here!!!

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    1. How do you feel when you buy lamb chops from your local butcher?

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  41. Such a beautiful bird! I've seen it around here, too, but the Red-shouldered hawk is much more common.
    I agree with your thoughts about human reaction to what birds of prey catch - rats and snakes okay, birds not so much. One summer a Red-shouldered hawk caught a baby scrub jay in our garden (the jays were nesting in one of our bushes), sure it's sad, but that is nature. I found it fascinating how scrub jays and crows banded together to (unsuccessfully) defend their young and chase away the hawk.

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    1. Mixed species of birds will often flock to drive off a threat to them all. A common defence is often the best strategy. You see this especially when songbirds gather to drive away a Pygmy Owl.

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  42. Hello David,
    Of course, birds of prey are cool!
    This is truly amazing and beautiful!
    Best regards,
    Maria

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  43. lol, know that, branches all over the place. This is a bird I have never seen. It is a beauty for sure. Love the shots :)

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  44. Hi David,
    Such a beautiful Hawk with unusual colouration in the feathering.
    Miriam well done for your images, the bird certainly had you spotted.
    All the best, John

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  45. A very beautiful bird, and the pictures are enlightening.

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  46. Hi friend David,
    what a great photo of this beautiful sparrow hawk. Of course I immediately turn green again hahahahaha .... a beautiful little bird of prey with a beautiful drawing. Also very nicely put on the photo. I love these birds :-)
    Kind regards, Helma xx

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  47. Enjoying the photos, sitting in bed (allergy-time)

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  48. Hi David - Miriam's photos are quite delightful ... beautiful - loved seeing them. Interesting isn't it that we, by feeding the garden birds, inadvertently (or I'd say beneficially) help the raptors ... gosh - love those shots - cheers Hilary

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