"Oh-oh," I thought to myself. I walked the dogs around to the backyard and sure enough.... there was fresh blood on the edge of the tray and lots of feathers scattered all over. (I deleted the blood picture and here's the less gross scattered feathers).
I picked up a few feathers to try and ID and I'm thinking (hoping) it was a house sparrow. What do you think?
On days that I'm home, I may see that Cooper's Hawk a couple times a day swooping through the yard. She particularly likes sitting in the apple trees (at the right side of this photo) and I've scared her out of there on more than one occasion when walking out in the yard. These trees are pretty dense and it's a short quick flight out of there to the birdfeeders nearby.
I don't mind if she gets a few birds in my yard.....I have an overabundance of house finches and sparrows and even quite a few mourning doves that would make a good meal for a hungry Cooper's Hawk. I remember when I worked at Wild Birds Unlimited there were always a few customers who would come in and be absolutely irate about a Cooper's or Sharp-Shinned taking songbirds from their feeders or yard. I read a great article in The Backyard Bird Newsletter one time that reminded us how few hawks there are in relation to songbirds and how truly difficult it is for them to catch enough food every day in order to survive. I always tried to share this information with people and also remind them of what a privilege it is to see a bird of prey going about its business in their own backyard. (It's still hard to remember that though when you find a pile of cardinal feathers under your backyard feeder.....)
On my way back into the house, I used a fern leaf to rescue this little beetle who was trying to right itself in a half inch of water in a plastic bucket. According to my new Kaufman insect field guide, it's an "Earth Boring Scarab" Bolbocerasoma species. The book says adults are attracted to dung....plenty of that in my yard with 2 dogs and all those bird feeders.
On an entirely unrelated subject, I'm pleased to report that we have completely discontinued the use of plastic beverage bottles in our household. There's been so much in the news lately about all the plastic bottles (water, pop, juice, etc.) being thrown away and lots of them not being recycled. My Spousal Unit loves the flavored waters in plastic bottles and would go through at least 12 of them a week. I've been refilling glass tea bottles with water and a little packet of Lipton "Green Tea to Go" for my lunch beverage and asked him if he would give up his flavored water in plastic bottles to experiment with something new.
At the grocery store, I found these "Water Sensations," a Clear Liquid Flavor Enhancer for Water (cost is about $2.50 for a box of 12 packets). I bought a 6-pack of plain Lipton tea in glass bottles (which I drank myself) and then filled his bottles with water from the tap and the "Water Sensations" (BTW, it comes in yummy flavors: peach, mixed berry, and strawberry/kiwi and it's sweetened with Sucralose). Turns out to be very delicious and he really likes it....doesn't miss his plastic bottles at all and 6 bottles guarantees that there will always be a bottle of cold, flavored water in the refigerator for his lunch and to quench his thirst after his afternoon walk. And boy, have we noticed a reduction of stuff in the recycling bin every week!