Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Gull experiment gone wrong-Pigeon casualty from Hawk

The reason why I have been feeling so run down the past couple of days is because of allergies that happen to me every year when the ground starts to thaw and mold spores open to cause sinus problems, itchy eyes, ears and throat. The only thing that makes me comfortable is Benedryl so I took quite a few today and had to do my birding around my home because I don't like to drive while under the influence of the stuff.

I was across the street from my house when suddenly I saw a gull I had never seen before. It seemed much tinier than the ones who come around here, so I decided to take a couple of pictures which was quite the challenge due to snow fall. I consulted my Peterson Guide when I got home to compare my pictures to and I still couldn't get a good idea of what kind of gull it was. I could see it flying around still when I got home so I had a genius idea which was to get the gull to my yard by putting out scraps as I often get gulls in my yard by doing this.

So now that you have an idea of what my genius idea was let me tell you what really happened. I had a bunch of pigeons and starlings eating that pile of cereal and there was not a gull to be found. The pigeons started coming into my yard about a week ago and usually come in a flock of four to eat spilled birdseed. There is not much I can do considering I live across the street from a factory where they all live, so it is a given I will get them if I put out birdseed for any of my birds. I think there were about 6 of them here today even after the cereal was eaten.

Last Friday afternoon, I actually saw a coopers swoop in on a pigeon and miss it as the four pigeons flew away. It happened so quickly that it took a while for it to register, but once it did I figured I wouldn't have anymore pigeons in my yard. They were here on Saturday and today especially after I dumped cereal onto the ground.

I went into my kitchen at about 3:30PM and there before me were two Cooper's Hawks grabbing a pigeon. I sat there shocked for a moment and then ran to get my camera. They both flew off into my neighbors yard and I decided to follow as I don't have any closeups of a Cooper's yet.

If you are sensitive to birds of prey eating other animals than I strongly suggest you back click right now as you may find this disturbing. I have a picture of the hawk eating the pigeon. There is no blood or anything like that, but it may still bother you.

The first picture you saw on my blog was the hawk that served as the lookout as the other hawk ate. I got as close to the hawk on the tree as I could before it saw me and flew away. The hawk that was eating did not seem at all disturbed by my presence as it was too intent on having its dinner.

Lesson learned here. I will not be putting out anymore junk in my yard in hopes to attract the unknown gull. I would have felt terrible if the coopers would have gotten that instead. While I feel bad that a bird was killed in my yard, I am glad it wasn't one of my song birds. We have approx. 40 pigeons living across the street and with breeding season starting, we will have more.

It's the circle of life I suppose. One hawk will not go to bed hungry tonight.


Anonymous said...

The hawk could have easily as gotten it somewhere else so don't feel bad... Great photos!!! I admit, it just make me a bit sad to see it, but I know..the hawk needs to eat too.. Michelle

ShySongbird said...

Hi Kallen,

Hope you are feeling a little better now, I have a lot of experience of allergies etc. I don't think people who don't suffer realise just how tiring and debilitating it can be, sometimes you just have to give in and get some rest.

When I first saw a Sparrow Hawk eating a song bird in my garden last year I felt very guilty, as if I had lured it there for the Hawk by putting food out. But I suppose it is all just part of nature and the natural order of things.

madcobug said...

Great shots. This may be your gull from Steve's blog. Helen

Lynne said...

It really is a circle of life thing. A friend told me that I should feel good about providing a yard habitat that will support both songbirds and raptors.

Amazing pix!

Rich said...

The reality is that birds eat birds and big fish often eat little fish. Great photos.

Salty said...

The hawks must eat to, it is nature.

There is a good chance that the coopers would not kill a gull I doubt if they are as tasty as a pigeon. You are very lucky to have gotten these great shots, WOW!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Kim, I LOVE hearing you talk---so I watched your video twice today.. You definitely are NOT a southern girl. You'll probably laugh when you hear me talk!!! I'm not as bad as lots of southerners--but I sure don't talk northern!!!! ha ha

Sorry about not getting the gulls to your yard. Hope you see them again. About the Pigeons, don't worry about them. That hawk would find them --even if they weren't in your yard.

I always enjoy your bird pictures. You have taught me so much!!!! Keep the photos and videos coming!!!

Hope you are feeling better.

The Early Birder said...

WHOW, now this is wildlife photography of nature 'in action'. Well done & hope you feel better very soon. Lol Frank.

Mary said...


I didn't mind those questionable photos at all! Now, if the victim was a Cardinal or other sweet songbird, I'd be shaken a little. Hawks gotta eat.

You made me laugh in that video. Every spring the pigeons arrive and pig out. Last summer there were 25 sitting on my neighbor's rooftop waiting for me to go inside. And Starlings, I have plenty of them, too!

Hang in with the allergies. Mine haven't started acting up yet.

Kallen305 said...

Thanks all. The weird thing is that the coopers hawk usually visits my yard about once a day and leaves rather quickly as my song birds are too quick for them. Since the pigeons have come though there is a hawk in my yard everytime a pigeon appears. What is so odd is that I don't even see the hawk perching anywhere. I just swoops in for the kill.

When I was across the street today I could see a coopers actually try and grab a pigeon while flying. I had no idea they would try and do a kill while in flight. I have learned a lot about coopers over the past couple of days, but I don't want them to be regulars in my yard. It is supposed to snow hard here tomorrow so I am guessing my song birds will be out by the dozens. Let's hope the pigeons now equate my yard with certain death and stay away.

I now know where the two coopers live too. They are along the trail I take to go to the wetlands. I see large twigs up in a tree and there are a ton of pigeon feathers over there. I am guessing that's there home.

Yes it is indeed the circle of life and I know the hawks need to eat and hate to think of them as hungry. I just kind of wish they would stick to bird seed like the others. Heck, I would buy them their own special blend to keep them happy. ;o). Such beautiful birds though. Not nearly as beautiful as the red tailed but in their own way.

Kallen305 said...

Shy, I have suffered from allergies since I was 5. I am most allergice to dust and mold which is around year long so I have learned how to suffer! The only thing that works really well is the Benedryl and normally only take that at night. Allergies are a real drag.

Kallen305 said...

Betsy, yes I am a yankee for sure!! HA! It's funny though because a lot of people tell me I don't sound like I am from Boston....Someone actually told me I sounded like I was from upstate New York?????? HA! My fathers whole family is from there and I don't think I sound like them at all. Weird that of all places they would say I sounded like was from there.

Mary said...

Oh, dear...poor pigeon, but Hawks got to eat just like the rest. Even if it's sort of gory to have to watch. You got great photos! Can't help on the gull.

Anonymous said...

Such amazing pictures. Sorry you are feeling so bad. Spring is my worst allergy season too. The meds make me feel so drowsy. Hope you feel better soon.

A New England Life said...

My gosh Kim, your posts are really getting exciting! You are quickly becoming 'the bird lady'! lol!

Cute video and great shots of the birds feeding. Upsetting yes, but it is nature and as Mary mentioned at least it wasn't a song bird.

I'll bet those pigeons and starlings were in heaven with all that food that just seemed to fall out of the sky!

Shellmo said...

kallen - excellent "action" shots of the hawk eating the pigeon! I go back and forth from being fascinated - to - aw - poor pigeon. But then if I had to choose any bird for it to eat - it would be the pigeon followed by the starling.

Kelly said...

...great shots...the hawk has to eat also, and we need to see and understand both sides of nature. Loved the video...funny. The starlings are starting to drive me nuts too!

Susan Gets Native said...

AWESOME ! ! ! !
Don't you DARE feel bad. A Coop can get a lot of meat off a pigeon. They are all breast.
Your video cracked me up.
"More pigeons....more starlings...and more pigeons...and more starlings...."

Watching a bird of prey eat meat is the same as watching a goldfinch eat thistle. They're all birds and they all need to eat.
Great feeding pics.
*from your friendly neighborhood RAPTORite*

Larry Jordan said...

Awesome captures of the Coop Kim! I have only seen one in my yard once and it didn't stay long enough for a photo op. I am so jealous!

I hope to have another visit soon now that I know they are in the area.

I am so lucky to have Red-shouldered Hawks nesting near me (I keep hearing them but haven't found their nest yet). I hope to get some good photos of them this spring.

Are you gonna try to get some photos of the Cooper's Hawks nesting and follow their chick raising exploits?

I'll be waiting for updates!

Jayne said...

I love seeing a hawk, well, being a hawk. I figure nature knows how to keep its balance. Great shots Kallen!!

I couldn't help but laugh when watching the video. That's exactly what would happen to me if I did that

Anonymous said...

Amazing events. It can be difficult to watch sometimes, but no more so that seeing one of the beautiful raptors starving. I witnessed a sharp shinned hawk take a cardinal in our yard about a month ago.

Anonymous said...

Good shots & video! And instead of cereal, I feed the birds plain Hostess donuts lol.

Leedra said...

Not your fault. The Hawk is going to kill. As birders and/or photographers we have to be ready to see this at some time. Wait until you see a snake get a hummingbird, that one upsets you. You captured it very well.

Leedra’s Photos For Fun
Leedra’s Greeting Cards
Photography By Leedra

Steve B said...

Nice shots! Kim, you're getting the nack.


Related Posts with Thumbnails