Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cycle of life

So, there I was sitting in the living room, minding my own business and working on photos I’d taken earlier in the day of a juncoe on the red pole out the back window, when my husband comes running in the room . . .


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He told me that he’d just seen a sharp shinned hawk swoop right down from the sky and take one of the birds that was waiting its turn at the feeder. “It’s still on the tree,” he told me, “and he’s eating the bird.”

So I stopped to get the long lens, the Nikon 70-300mm which is the longest we have, and followed my husband’s pointing finger to the tree where the hawk was perched.


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These photos aren’t that good because I was taking them at an angle through glass. But stay with me, ok?


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For those of you who are squeamish, I apologize. But this is how things are (and I promise to never post anything gross here).


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We watch as the hawk eats his prey, feathers floating in the air. My husband says that he can’t believe we’re witness to this.

We watch the feathers as they float gently down, landing on the snow.

: : :

And then I’ve had enough and go back to the living room where I plan on forgetting what I had just seen.

About 20 minutes go by and my husband walks into the room and announces that the hawk is still there. “It’s like he’s eyeing up his next meal,” he tells me.

Well, I have had enough of this. So I get on my boots and my warm coat, and don my hat and my gloves and despite my husband telling me that the bird will fly, I told him that I wanted it to fly.  I want it to fly far away from our birds here today because I think that he’s had enough.


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And I walked right under where he was perched, trying to scare me with his evil red eye.


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And I captured this shot of him, looking rather put out because I was standing right under him. But he also looked like he was getting ready to take off.


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Which he did.


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And everything I took was blurry.

But he landed close by and I continued to follow him, standing under each tree, until he took off completely.


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And I waited . . .


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. . . until he was far far away.

And then the birds returned to the feeders. Like they were waiting for me to save them.

And then I was the hero of this story.

The end.
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65 comments:

Hilary said...

Wow, you got a great picture of him
And yes, it is hard to watch some of the things that go on in nature.
My helper, Lois, would say.......well, he has to eat, too.
And I guess that is true.

Country Girl said...

I absolutely agree, Hilary. But one bird is all he's going to get from us today.
He picked the perfect time, too. Because all the birds come out when the sun hits it just so.

Clever hawk.

~ C.G.

Karen said...

There was was a gal named Kate... who glared at a hawk while he ate.

She went out beside him to capture and fly him...

..another moment would have been too late.



Oh, I hate when that happens, he's a beautiful thing, but I'm glad you sent him packing. I can't watch nature programs when they show scenes from the "cycle of life". Ugh.

Tammy said...

That is so cool!

runaroundaroo said...

Those are some pretty cool pictures!

It is so fascinating to watch nature take its course. It is sad to see the little birdie go, but still completely amazing to see the skills of its predator.

Even so, I think you deserve from street cred for saving the pretty birdies!

michelle said...

I understand the cycle of life so to speak but it is still hard to see. I am glad your little birds had you looking out for them! As always, great shots!

RottenMom said...

Really fantastic photos!

We have a big mean ol' Blue Jay that chases all the other birds from my feeders. I have been known to step outside and make some noise to scare him away.

Deb said...

great photos of the hawk...we have had 2 circling around for the last week...haven't seen them catch anything yet...but they have been keeping the birds on the run around here...

Jean said...

Yes, you are a hero. Good job.

texwisgirl said...

Beautiful photos of him, but yes, I always feel like I've lured the poor little songbirds to their death by letting them get comfortable around feeders. Then, "SWOOP! There it is!" A hawk takes another one.

Your junco is just beautiful. Sure hope it wasn't the one that ended up as late lunch...

Anonymous said...

we have a lot of doves that eat in our back yard, a hawk came down and caught one and sit there and ate it right outside my window, by the time I saw it the bird was dead so I just watached him finish it off.

Flat Creek Farm said...

Ohhhh, I love it! You saved the day! I would have probably done this also. Although, he really is a beautiful bird ;) Great photos as always. I've missed visiting here! -Tammy

Country Girl said...

Karen, I love your little poem.

And such is life, everyone.

It's Saturday night and it's a quiet one here at the manor house. George is halfway in my lap while I'm watching Amelie on netflix for about the sixteenth time. But I love love this movie.

~ C.G.

Jeanne Walker said...

You're my kinda girl! I would have done the same thing. I know that the predators have to eat, but they can go somewhere out of sight to fill this need! On behalf of all the birds that call your trees home, THANK YOU, MS KATE!

deborah said...

Thank you for giving the small birds a bit of safety. I agree, one bird was enough

Tina said...

Wow! Great photos! I understand the circle of life, but you're right, that's hard to see at times. I think you did a good thing. His tummy should have been full enough..it was time for him to move on!

Anonymous said...

We have a hawk that likes to scope out the birds at our feeders and yes he has a meal or two.

The most terrifying thing happened a few years ago. I was out in the yard with my Sheltie Puppy who only weighed 3.5 pounds and a hawk scooped down to grab him. I yelled like crazy! We then had a new rule, no puppy outside by himself. Debbie from Illinois

Lizzie said...

Super cool hero..! It is the way of things in nature and we just have to accept it but we don't have to watch..
Lizzie
xxx

Snappy Di said...

He was quite stubborn, wasn't he? When Rowdy was tiny we always went out in the backyard with him and would not let him wander around. We were afraid a large bird such as a Hawk or a Vulture would take a swipe at him since they were always circling overhead.

Di

Flea said...

WOW. He's GORGEOUS. Good job, bird mom! Saving all those little birds. I always feel bad putting out a feeder, since I have a cat that likes to stalk them.

BUSH BABE said...

Loved this post - we get to see this kind of 'pecking order' happen all the time. Sometimes we are allowed to interfere with Mother Nature's survival of the fittest thing, but generally, the hawk will get a feed. One way or the other.

Actually close to my favourite birds are wedge-tail eagles - hunters who are magestic and awe-inspiring:
http://bushbabeofoz.com/2009/09/21/weather-and-wedge-ies/

You made me laugh at the end! Funny chick...
:-)
BB

PS Check your inbox shortly...

A New England Life said...

The same breed of bird was here a couple days ago! He was right on some small birds tail, chasing him around the backyard, and almost had him pinned on the deck until I screamed at him. When the hawk flew away there wasn't anything in his talons, though I'm sure it wasn't long until he got what he was after. The circle of life really hurts sometimes.

Hilary said...

A fabulous series of shots, Kate. It is indeed what it is. As hard as it might be to watch. Still.. great photos.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Yeah, life can be cruel. I still blame the great horned owl we saw in our backyard a couple of times for my sweet calico's disappearance several years ago. She was a strictly indoor kitty who escaped a back door that didn't close entirely. I searched for her for a long time --in vain. Yes, I'm sure it was the owl who made off with her.

Devon said...

Such wonderful pictures. I get pretty protective of the birds around my feeders also!

I guess no one gets through life without some pain. All the more reason to celebrate while we can.

Laura Delegal - Leroy Photography said...

Way to stand your ground ... stupid hawk>

Stacey Dawn said...

Go Kate, Go!!!!! Yea!!! Save those birds!!!

And yes, I know the hawk has to eat...but still - Go, Kate, go!!!!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting that we both posted on hawks but my goodness yours is a big chap compared with ours, and what wonderful shots you got of him. Well done.

Amy said...

Amazing shots and really spectacular that you got to witness that but at the same time as it is gross to watch, it's nature doing what nature does- surviving! Glad you made him go elsewhere though for his second meal- have no problems with number of servings you feel he deserved at your place....;-)) God bless the heros in our world... ;-))

homegrown countrygirl said...

You are so good at telling a story... and help, your "blurry" pictures are better than my "good" ones!

Gail said...

What a great story and pictures...sometimes the cycle of live can be cruel.

Pauline said...

I know the hawk needed to eat but I'm glad you saved the birds you were feeding. As always, remarkable photos.

deb said...

I am in awe at your hawk photos . It's really a spectacular bird .

I'll pretend the other part didn't happen :)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Fantastic pictures. You've managed to capture the wingspan, a really difficult shot.

CJ xx

Holly said...

very beautiful photos.

the line between life and death is very thin. I just read a post over on Scienceblogs from Greg Laden about the great bird die off down south. He studied several duck families one year and realized there was a HUGE die off (80%)with the ducklings. What he discovered was that getting enough to eat made the difference over night between living and not. Enough to eat meant you kept hypothermia at bay. Not enough meant the chicks could not stay warm enough to make it through the night. I fully imagine that is the case for hawks and song birds too, tho the song birds have a helping hand the hawk doesn't (bird feeders). Or maybe that IS a helping hand for the hawk.

Country Girl said...

Holly, that is so interesting. I do believe that the bird feeders help them both.
We also think this is the same hawk we always see here on the property. This is his territory and he knows when to come.

~ C.G.

Rusty said...

Great series! I have a feeling that hawk was wondering if you might be good for a meal or two. I guess it decided 'size matters'.
ATB!

Lili said...

I'm with you, try as I might I can never get used to the way nature takes it course. I love the shots you get of your little wild ones and now maybe that hawk will develop an understanding of where you stand next time. That said, he too is very beautiful. I really do love them all. Hugs to you for what you endured!
~Lili

Mental P Mama said...

I would have done the very same thing.

COUNTRY GAL said...

Awesome photos! Nature is cruel at times but at the same time beautiful ! Have a great day !

commoncents said...

VERY COOL!
Thanks for posting this! I always love visiting your blog!!

Steve
Common Cents
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Michelle said...

Some wonderful photos there (even the blurry ones!), and I'm a sucker for a happy ending! (Well, for all but the one little victim.)

Mary said...

Wow! You got some incredible pictures! He is a beauty, for sure. And though it is hard to watch such things, it IS a privilege to have seen it... after all, he has to eat, too.

Emom said...

A nice steady hand...that's what you have my dear....my hand would have shook with anger....even if irrational....smiles.

Joanne said...

I was afraid you were going to say you had discovered he'd grabbed and eaten the cute fuzzy bird on the red pole! I'm glad that's not the case. All-in-all, the hawk is a gorgeous bird, and you got some very good shots of him/her (?).

mrs mediocrity said...

Oh my, I am torn between feeling so bad about the little bird and being so in love with that hawk. What a story you captured, I can't believe he let you get so close to him. But I am glad you saved the other birds. You are a hero. And you take amazing pictures.

Char said...

gotta love a hero....just gotta

Lisa RedWillow said...

Kate he is beautiful.. I cant wait until they come home to Canada. When they do I hope they land in my Willows. Fantastic view and blog .

Kerri said...

You are my hero too! I know they must eat, but I hate to see them eat the birdies at the feeder.

You got some GREAT shots of him!!!

Jan's camera said...

Good for you!! I know hawks have to eat too, but not it your backyard. I know nature is cruel, but birds eating birds just doesn't seem right somehow.

Dyche Designs said...

Nature can seem so cruel at times but I guess it's all part of the cyle of things. You got some amazing shots.

beth said...

OMG.......you are a hero !!!
wow, you are a really really a hero !!!.....i'm so proud of you !!

The Japanese Redneck said...

It's cruel, but you're right its the cycle of life.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story and photos!
You truly are a hero!
:)

Donna in Colorado

Louisiana Belle said...

Great save, Kate! I'm sure the birds would thank you if they could. Can you imagine their relief as they watched him fly off? Cool story. I already commented on one photo that you posted to Flickr, but I'll say here too that these are an awesome series of shots. Well done!

shirley said...

Great picture of that hawk! I'm glad he flew off, though.

We watched a hawk eat a bunny rabbit in our backyard. It was not a pretty sight.....

TSannie said...

Damn circle of life! That hawk is a beauty, though.

Joy said...

You are a heroine.

Holly said...

another tidbit I learned from a falconry blog I followed for awhile is that a few grams (when weighed) more or less meant the difference between hunting and non hunting in hawks used for falconry. Grams.....amazing. The birds had to be .just. hungry enough to go after the doves or ducks (depending on the species of hawks used). If they were too hungry they might fly off with the prey and if they were not hungry enough they would not fly at all.

Who knew?!

Oz Girl said...

Amazing that he let you get so close to get those gorgeous pics of him. Our hawks always fly away. I have YET to get a great picture of one of the hundreds, no, thousands of hawks we see all the time out here!

Oliag said...

What beautiful shots you got of him Kate! I love songbirds but must feel some pity for the poor raptor too...after all they do eat mice and snakes when they are available!

Genny said...

Amazing photos of the hawk! I know it's hard to watch them with the small birds, but they're fascinating to me. Looking at your photos, I think it may actually be a Cooper's Hawk. But they're hard to tell apart being so similar. I'm sure the little ones all breathed a sigh of relief.

Life with Kaishon said...

You were the hero! I love it! What great pictures. Laughed out loud about the red evil eye! : )

ladyfi said...

Amazing photos and wonderful storytelling.

Donalyn said...

I am just eaten up with envy that you got those shots - they are so good!