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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Folks,

I've been using the camper shell on my old truck to feed the neighborhood birds.
They love it 'cause it's right underneath a Japanese Plum Tree and they can swoop in and out of the branches and down to the seed just under the branches. There are finches, sparrows, mourning doves that collect on the phone wires, and most recently, yeah!--pijies :D .

But last weekend, my neighbor came to my screen door and was calling to me in a whispered voice. When I got to the door, she told me to come out quietly and be quick about it. There on one of the branches, was a hawk. Four of us human types gathered on the sidewalk to speculate on the type of hawk we were viewing. It flew to a few different spots, including the roof of my house, then flew away.

Then during the week, I saw a bird come soaring in towards the same spot.
When I turned around to look, all the other birds had disappeared and there was one lonely hawk. I followed it around as he/she found a new spot to land, so I could get a better look at markings and then went looking on the net.....It seems like it fits the description of a Sharp Skinned Hawk, which I know nothing about. Seems like it is a migratory hawk. I'm wondering if anyone here knows anything about this species of hawk?? Will they stick around here indefinitely?

fp
 

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Hi FP,

How large was this hawk...sharp shinned and coopers look remarkably similar to one another but coopers hawks are bigger. A sharp shinned hawk is about the size of a pigeon but much slimmer and with a longer tail than a pigeon.

I think it depends on the area that the hawks are from, whether they will remain in the area or not. Food sources will dictate this as well as climate and you live in a temperate location to begin with so this hawk could be a permanent resident of your area.

Here is a picture of a sharp shinned and coopers for comparison.
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Brad,

I did find this link for a comparison:

http://www.ggro.org/idhelp.html

but now that I've seen your pic, well, I'm just not sure. I thought the hawk to be in the range of a foot long w/tail with brown/lighter mottling in the front. It's body did seem to be the size of a pij, but in the pic you have where they are side by side, it looks tiny. It went to the ground beside my drive, up to a phone wire, down to some grass beside another driveway, then over to the plumb tree beside my driveway.

I think I should stop putting food out, as it's certainly attracting the hawk for other food reasons. Although there seems to be an inter-species signaling system. I've watched the pigeons signal the doves, if they think there is need for concern. Anyway, they all seem to clear out so far, and I don't want to create an unnaturally easy situation for the hawk. I thought they were migratory, but your right that this area is temperate.

fp
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #4
Hey Brad,

will the Cooper Hawk also hang aroung bird feeders for smaller birds?

fp
 

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Hi FP,

Yep, a coopers hawk will hang around if it's got a food source. These birds and the sharp shinned are "Stealth" hunters. Often, you won't even see them. They'll be hidden in a tree somewhere waiting patiently for the oportunity to strike. Then when they've locked onto a target that is close enough, they will burst out of the tree like a bullet. Their short wings, and long tail enable them to negotiate quick turns and sharp corners.

I once witnessed a coopers attempt an attack on a mourning dove in my backyard but the dove managed to get airborn in time and then over the trees in my backyard. Once the dove reached open skies it was basically safe. Even though the hawk did persue it for a time, the dove was faster and these hawks aren't long distance flyers/sprinters. They rely mostly on ambush techniques with a short burst of speed.
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #6
That's interesting Brad about the long distance pursuit. I also was reading a page that listed numerically the sightings for migrating hawks in the Bay Area:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=24361

Also bumped into this one with bird calls:

http://www.naturesongs.com/falcstri.html#coha

At work today, they told me that there was one outside our shop area last Friday. I've never noticed them here before, not so plentifully. In San Francisco, because of the Raptor Program for keeping the pigeon population down, yes. I even saw one that was about 2 feet from head to tail in SF. Just not here in the populated areas near downtown Oakland. Maybe they are here to stay as it is temperate. My neighbor told me yesterday that he can hear babies that he believes to be the hawks near his apartment.
 

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Hi FP,

Thanks for the links:) I'm actually a member of the birdforum but I haven't checked in there in quite awhile:p

It's hard to say for sure whether or not your getting an influx of hawks due to the reintroduction program or not. Perhaps they've always been around but you're just noticing them now as they are encroaching on yours and the pigeons' turf;)

I love hawks myself, I find them to be very, very interesting to observe. I'll always stop (if possible) on my travels when I see one and just watch what he does. I saw a nice big red tail hawk last week while in Toronto, perhced on top of a very high building with a bell tower thingie. There was also one lone crow perched just above him making the occasional pass to drive him off. Pigeons were lined up in the roof of the adjacent building and didn't seem bothered at all by the red tails presense, guess they knew the crow was keeping him busy:D
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Brad,

Well allright then, Brad, should have know you'd be familiar w/the site! You're an eclectic bird lover ;) .

You raised alot of good points for me to think about, and of course, I did find myself going back to the Golden Gate Raptor link and browsing around. They
are interesting to observe and as with all creatures in nature have their niche, purpose and beauty, what can I say, I think possums have cute faces:) . I've just been struggling a bit about how to think of it all. I'm obviously part of why they are coming to this spot, but at the GGR Hawk Watch page, I started clicking on the reports for different days over the past few months, and this does seem to be part of the migration season. Folks at the school and neighbors were also surprised to see them, although one neighbor who regularly feeds the squirrels and morning doves did tell me a while back that she has seen a hawk in the neighborhood. I don't know if it's a resident year round or also part of the migration that seems to occur this time of year.

I get the emails from NYCPRC and someone posted a "reminder" to people about humming birds and the praying mantis which I used to love as a kid.
I thought.....huh?!? So I googled it and found all kinds of stories about the praying mantis eating not just insects, but mice and humming birds :eek:
I had no idea!

The Oakland Airport does have a raptor program specifically for the Killdear which is known for getting caught in the airplane engines. They use the Peregrine Falcon. Of course, this has prompted a specialist to come in and closely observe the program for another protected species in the area. But I still haven't heard of any official program to keep the pigeon population down here, although, this would be preferrable imo to other choices.

I did notice that the Sharp Skinned Hawk female would be about the size of a male Coopers Hawk, and their markings to my uneducated eye are very similar. It did seem as tho, at least from the pictures I've seen that the Sharp Skinned Hawk's beak may not have as pronounced a crook in the beak.
Would you say that this is overall true?? The hawk I saw did seem to have the pronounced crook.

fp
 

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Hi FP,

Well, in regards to this hawk you have been seeing around, it's hard to tell you what to look for to identify it from a distance. You're right, the female sharp shinned hawk is near the size of a male coopers but they would look different. Both the male coopers or sharp shinned have brighter colours than the females of their individual species. The males have have reddish/rust coloured spotting on the chest and their head, back and wing coverets are more greyish/blue. The females are more brown all over.

The sharp shinned hawk is jay/common grackle sized (12-13 in.long) in both length and girth. The coopers hawk is more crow sized (17-19 in. long) but not as heavy looking and with a much longer tail. Sharp shinned hawks will flap more often and faster, whereas the coopers will have slower wingbeats alternating with short glides. One last small detail is that sharp shinned hawks have a squared off tail end and the coopers is more rounded or fan-like -both are long though.

As for the beaks, they are pretty much the same, just that the sharp shinned is a little more delicate looking, being a smaller bird:)
 

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fp - just read your post about the praying mantis eating mice and hummingbirds. Like you, I have loved the mantis since I was a little girl - would sit and watch them for hours. I had no idea they could consume the mice or hummers.

You've given me something else to Google. I'm still so fascinated with this computer that there are some things I havn't even thought to check out, like the mantis. Aren't they terrific insects?

maggie
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #11
Hi Brad & Maggie,

I guess the squared off tail would be the definer then, as this one did have a squared off tail, I would say then it would have been a sharp skinned female.
But again, this is hindsight, memory, and being a novice.

As for the praying mantis, I don't know what it was as a kid that got me going on them, they were such a delight to sight and watch and so unusual. Yes, google it....I did praying mantis+hummingbirds....boys waz I surprised. Your gonna love having your computer, Maggie, 'cept when it doesn't do what you tell it to or gets sick :p !

fp
 

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I have mentioned the red tailed hawk couple that eat out of our crows dish. I tried to get a picture this am - had to take it through a window but maybe it will show enough.

Maggie
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #14
Wow, Maggie, you weren't kidding about feeding the hawks to give the other birds a break were you? Are those guys just passing through or are they year round residents?

fp
 

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Thanks Lin. FP - They are locals. They started showing up 2-3 years ago, during the really cold months here - around the end of Jan - early Feb and would stay around until warmer weather. They are really big.

The male, I think, is the one that feeds most often but occasionally the other will join him. They showed up much earlier this year. We feed the crow family, and have done so for years, various things - chicken, bread, soaked dry dog food, leftovers, etc. They come every morning to see what is on the menu that day. The hawks must watch because when the crows start to eat, they come down. Makes the crows mad but they don't mess with the hawks too much. Sometimes it looks like they are playing with them.

I have been amazed that the hawks will eat the soaked dog food, and even bread. They sit up in the tree above our small aviary most of the morning and have never attempted to catch the squirrels or other birds that feed below. We have seen them fly to where our summer garden is and start pecking so I don't know if they are trying to dig up the voles we have in the yard or even grub worms.

I have also noticed that when they are here the smaller falcons do not come in the yard, so that is another reason I leave them alone. I just believe that every bite they eat out of the crow's bowl will save another little critter. Besides, I really do think they are magnificent.

Maggie

PS - Love your current avatar!
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #16
Wow, Maggie, sounds like alot of action at your house! All the rescues, the restaurant customers and the voles....what more could anyone ask for??

So, I would think that your strategy of feeding to ensure the survival of the little ones does in fact help. I stopped putting out on a regular basis, but yesterday, on my way in, some sparrows flew down near where I'd put out on a strip of lawn, and let me know that they were looking for a handout. I couldn't resist, so I put some seeds down for them. Then I noticed up on the telephone line a couple of big crows. Funny, cause I haven't seen them on this block before. Close by on other blocks, but never this block. I'm not the only one feeding on this block, and another neighbor accross the street takes feeding duties seriously--I used to see a flock of mourning doves start lining up on the phone wire around 6:45 or so in the morning. Once a bunch of them had gathered, they'd all fly down to the back yard where Charlie the squirrel and a neighborhood cat also get regular treats. I guess the word gets out on the wire, so to speak.

BTW, thanks! I notice that you've got a couple of new cuties today yourself!

fp
 

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Speaking of a praying mantis...

Hello all here,
WOW! This is quite an interesting thread I found here. I think I will,...no let me rephrase that if I may,I know I will spend more time in the other areas that Pigeon Talk has to offer. This has been very informative this discussion on the Hawks. As you all know, it has ben a recent topic of discussion in a couple of threads in the basic section.They are such beautiful creatures , it's just too bad that they "like " pigeons too.

Maggie, by the way,I just noticed you have been elevated up the loft to MATRIARCH!:p I hope I spelled that correctly.You know I have "ISSUES"with that title for us guys, but oh well...CONGRATULATIONS!:D

And speaking of mantises, I found one on the steps where i found Tooter almost 2 years ago.Almost stepped on him.I thought he was frozen dead. I picked it up and it came to life just seconds after he was in my warm hand. I put him in a plastic container with holes on top, a twig, some grass, and a wet leaf and showed it to my grandsons. They got a kick out of him walking up their arms.That night I to went to the world of Google...found it very intersting to say the least.I let him loose today after I read that they rely on spiders and beatles...but MICE?:eek: That is fascinating.

Well, folks, should we get back to the Hawk specie now?
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #18
Hi Victor,

Yup, mice and another one of my faves, hummingbirds, they'll go right for their
necks and open them up.

fp
 

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Hey Victor - my elevated status just proves that I like to "talk" a lot...

When I was a little girl there seemed to be more mantis than now. I can remember sitting on our porch steps for long periods of time just watching them slowly move around. I have always loved insects and other little creatures like that. I keep mealworms on hand always and, nut that I am, get bothered some when I have to feed them to a bird! Mealworms are really fascinating with their life cycles. I havn't googled them yet but I'm sure there is something on the web about them.
 

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Guardian Angel
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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Ms. Matriarch, er, I mean Maggie,

Interestingly enuf, when I googled mealworms, albeit a quick look, I couldn't find
one link w/exception of teaching 1st & 2nd graders how to raise them as a lesson, where they weren't being raised to feed to some other animal, reptile,
etc.

But, here goes a link from the North American Bluebird Society:

http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/mealworm.htm

fp
 
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