BIRD WATCH: Birds provide unexpected encounters

A RECENT PHOTO sent by email immediately grabbed my attention.

The subject, a red-tailed hawk, isn’t an unusual photographic subject but this one was.

It was facing toward the camera and sitting on a fence post.

This also isn’t unusual for this raptor, but a very large rabbit was part of the picture.

It was obvious the rabbit hanging from the hawk’s talons was dinner for the bird’s young.

The size of the animal indicated no one in the nest would go hungry.

Monika, the photographer, was in the right place at the right time with camera ready.

That often isn’t the case when a bird does something that demands your attention.

When a friend opened her backdoor with the intention of going outside to work in the garden, she was stopped dead in her tracks.

At first, Lila didn’t realize what was happening.

Both a hawk and a crow dropped a bird right at her feet.

The bird, a young starling, was screeching as only a starling can when its life is at stake.

Lila had walked into an argument over who the victim belonged to.

The crow went in one direction, the hawk in another and the starling? It didn’t survive.

Both of the above encounters happened within a day or two of one another.

They got me to thinking about how many unusual and unexpected bird encounters take place every day.

Throughout the years, I’ve been lucky to hear many stories.

They should have been collected for a book.

It would have been great entertainment to read.

One of the most unusual also involved a camera, but it was a video.

A hot, dry summer was responsible for a rare performance captured on film.

A family of Cooper’s hawks not only came for a drink but they came to bathe.

It is more accurate to say they came to take a shower.

Five or six of these hawks thought the yard’s sprinkler was just what they were looking for.

This sprinkler wasn’t in someone’s backyard where trees and bushes provided cover for their showering.

It was in the front yard, on the lawn facing the street in a residential neighborhood.

Half a dozen hawks running and jumping in a sprinkler sounds impossible but many of us saw Mike’s brother’s video.

Birds do some amazing things, things humans don’t expect.

Sometimes, they treat us as non-threatening and that often leads to a special encounter.

My late brother-in-law was amazed when a flock of golden-crowned kinglets acted as if he was just another tree or post.

There was something on the ground near a large fir tree dominating the yard and the kinglets couldn’t resist whatever it was.

What they were after remains a mystery but John stood very still as these tiny little birds hunted and pecked at the ground around his feet.

They seemed completely unaware of this human presence.

One of the most unusual stories told to me occurred when this column was in its infancy.

The storyteller was a lineman with the local utility company.

He was working in an area where there were no homes or human-related structures.

When lunch time arrived, he found a seat on a fallen log and sat down to enjoy his lunch.

A ruffed grouse appeared to take offense at his presence.

It began to walk up and down in front of him while looking him right in the eye.

How long this went on, I don’t remember.

Finally, the bird lost its patience.

It proceeded to fly up and land on his hardhat.

Stern measures are called for when an intruder usurps your drumming log.

True story.

No, I don’t remember the end but I do wonder what will be next.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: joanpcarson

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