Monday, March 2, 2009

Bird Photography Weekly-Sharp Shinned Hawk gets Starling

Well the hawk saga in my backyard continues. I had the Coopers fly by at about 7:30am and did not see them after that. At about 1PM today I went into my kitchen and could see a miniature version of a coopers with something underneath my shrub. I cringed knowing it got a bird and grabbed my camera to get a better idea what it was, hoping it wasn't a song bird. After zooming in I was able to confirm that it was a male starling.
I went into my bathroom for a better view and was able to lift the screen and hang my body out of the window for photos. The hawk looked at me but continued to do his business as I took a few photos. One thing I have noticed about hawks the past couple of days is that they would prefer not to move their prey unless they feel very threatened. If you approach them slowly without saying a word, you can get photos of hawks you would otherwise not be able to get because they would fly away.


I can't get over how small the sharp shins are. I would put them as the size of a crow and perhaps a little smaller. How you can really tell is by the size of their talons. Look at how small its legs are.
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FYI, the next photo is a little graphic. If you are sensitive to semi-gory pictures than I strongly suggest you stop right here as I would hate to be the one to upset you and ruin your day. ;o). It is basically a picture of the sharp skinned with its beak open and a little blood inside. You make the call if you want to see it or not. I just like to warn my readers out of courtesy.
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If you were able to handle that photo then perhaps you can handle the next. This one is very gory and graphic. You will not see any known starling body parts (except for perhaps its wing), but you will see a lot of blood. I was hesitant to put this on my blog and thought about it all day. I decided to do so because my hobby is wildlife photography. Yes I enjoy the pictures I take of my songbirds perched perfectly on my feeders, but also want to photograph birds as they are in the wild (in fact, that is my favorite way to photograph them). If this were a cardinal, blue jay, etc. I would probably not be posting or taking pictures so perhaps I am a tad hypocritical here. For those of you who follow my blog, you will remember I get up to 70 starlings in my yard at once, so was happy to see the sharpie had his lunch despite how messy it was compared to mine.
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LAST CHANCE
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Sigh, so there you have it. I have a bunch of hawks in my yard that are grabbing the birds who come to my feeders. I have thought about taking them down, but won't. We have over a foot of snow here with below freezing temps forecasted for the remainder of the week. The birds I feed depend on me too much and I can't take away the food that may keep them alive during this cold spell.

Remember when I said I was starting to get more interested in raptors and waterfowl because songbirds were becoming more difficult to photograph because they are never around?? Well I never thought it would come to this. I have seen more birds of prey the past 10 days than I could have imagined. All I need now is to see an owl and eagle and I will be all set for the winter!!


For more great bird photography photos go to Bird Photography Weekly

27 comments:

Richard said...

Don't be afraid to post about a Hawk eating. It's just part of nature. Good pictures.

Alan said...

Awesome post! Love the series of photos. I enjoy photographing birds of prey as well.
I agree with Richard, it's part of nature, don't be afraid to show it.

Mildred said...

More amazing close-ups.

A New England Life said...

I'm thinking your backyard is rated R! lol! Great pictures. And yes, that's the way it goes. Just so glad it wasn't a song bird.

Neil said...

Great photos thanks

Lynne said...

These are terrific pictures. Try not to feel bad. Those gorgeous raptors have to eat too.

Leedra said...

It is part of nature, and that's one way to get rid of those Starlings. I for one are glad you shared them all. Wish I could be so lucky with the camera in hand.

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Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great photos, Kim... It is just part of life... I know it's hard to see this---but just think: you have one less Starling!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

dAwN said...

Howdee Kallen,
Great shots! how exciting
yet a bit upsetting to know you are feeding the birds and feeding the birds to the birds...so to speak...
but if not in your yard it would be somewhere else...

ramblingwoods.com said...

Great photos and I don't feel bad about a starling...I guess I should, but I don't...Michelle

Kallen305 said...

Richard, you are right obviously, I just have not seen it much on other peoples blogs so I wasn't sure if it was taboo in the blogasphere and I just wasn't aware of it. ;o)

Alan, I am so into birds of prey lately. I remember when I first became a birder I was afraid of them and thought they would come into my yard and murder my birds out of pure evil. Once I decided to learn about them I realize they only kill to eat and only kill as much as they need to eat. Amazing birds all of them!

Thanks Mildred, I am shocked they came out as well as they did considering it was gray with snow and blowing snow around that time.

LOL Sharon about rated R! Between the falcons at work, the red taileds while driving and these ones in my yard, I think my entire existence is rated R lately. ;o)

Thanks Neil!

Lynne, you are right. I was happy to see that it had lunch because I do feel bad for them. If I ever had to be a bird, a bird of prey it would not be. They have to work hard for their meals.

Leedra, I am telling you these photo ops are now coming to me. I decided last week that I was no longer going to go out into fields, woods, etc in the dead of winter to photograph birds. Right after that I don't have to anymore because they just show up where I am. Very weird....

LOL! ROFL Betsy regarding one less starling! They are not bad birds necessary if there are only a couple of them but when they gang up in my yard they irritate the heck out of me. Natures way of population control I suppose. I am glad the hawks are getting my more abundant birds vs. the more rare.

You are right Dawn. I guess it's just kind of bugging me because I went from not having any bird kills in my yard to two in one day. The snow must be rough on them to be coming to my yard to eat.

Kallen305 said...

Michelle, I don't feel that bad about a starling either. We have so many of them that I guess the hawk will get those that are the most around my yard and it is always the starlings in the snow.

Kelly said...

...they are really good photos showing nature. Matty liked them too. Seems you've become a fast-food restaurant like we did for our Coopers and Red-shouldered! (love to hear about you hanging out of your bathroom window...).

Susan Gets Native said...

Girl, it's not taboo....have you SEEN my blog?
:)
I won't let up on you, either. I won't let you feel bad about posting it. Some people NEVER get to SEE this! You are lucky and should be excited to share. I think people come to birding blogs to see....um, wait for it....BIRDS.
It's nice that you put in warnings. It gives people a chance NOT to look at it. That's good blog manners.
It is just a simple fact that if you feed birds, you will also be feeding birds of prey. That's all.
Now start enjoying it, dammit!
:)

Larry Jordan said...

Great post Kim! Super captures of the Sharpie!

You are quite the nature photographer! You are making me very jealous of all the raptors in your yard to photograph.

Keep up the good work! I hope you get an owl and an eagle!

BTW, it's just natural selection. The birds of prey get the weaker slower prey and the quicker stronger prey escape to breed.

Little Brown Job said...

Great sequence of shots.

Paul.

Chris said...

Yeh I guess you observed a very intimate moment, and it is wonderful to see them when they feast.. although it might break your heart if it is a bird that comes to your feeders which will finish between its claws!!!

Kallen305 said...

Kelly, HA! You should have seen me hanging from the window. First I had to close the door so no cats could get into the bathroom and escape, than I had to jimmy myself in such a way as to not fall out and into all of that lousy snow! HA!

Thanks Susan. Yes I do see your blog and go to it daily. I have seen your posts and enjoy them. You are not hesitent to put anything on your blog and that is why its so refreshing to go there because I learn a lot. Plus you are wicked funny! ;o)

Larry,You are absolutely right about natural selection. I think I am getting all of these birds of prey because they live across the street in the woods. I knew I had coopers, but had no idea I had sharpies too. I am now wondering what else is over there.

Thanks Little Brown Job!

Kallen305 said...

Well said Chris, I am just going to have to accept is as nature that's all. It was actually not as gory to see as I thought it would be. They go about eating as all birds do, just a little messier that's all. ;o)

Jayne said...

It's just a hawk being a hawk. I think it's fascinating to watch and to see documented Kallen. Wonderful job!

Shellmo said...

Kallen - these are amazing photos of the Hawk's behavior! I enjoy them and like Richard said - all part of nature. (Sometimes nature isn't pretty - ha,ha!) Well done!!

Chad and Brandy said...

Great series of shots. It is very exciting to catch the events as they happen. Don't feel bad about posting them, I did the same thing about a month ago when it happened in my yard. It is all part of nature, whether we like it or not.

Keep up the great work.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

You know, watching the good, the bad, and the ugly is getting the whole story.
Part of raptor-appreciation is understanding their ways, up close. So awesome.
And something not easily caught on camera.

Yay!

Ruth said...

A great sequence of pictures! Congratulations. (You have more snow than we do right now)

Mary said...

Yuck...but well photograhed! I never get that close to hawks. I would love to have some shots that close...but without the kill :-)

Heather said...

What a great series of photos. It is nature in action, and I'd rather see that than watch a movie where they say the "F" word every 2 minutes - now THAT'S disgusting. I'm glad you chose to share them.

Red said...

Apparently I'm sick enough to blow up the gory ones to get a better look :p

Great series... the hawk in ALL its glory!

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