Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday on Monday

So I meant to post these pictures yesterday, but after spending a couple hours in an unsuccessful search for the Snowy Owl and then Super Bowl viewing, I ran out of time, so my Sunday post becomes a Monday post.

Check out this awesome picture I got yesterday afternoon of the Cooper's Hawk in the crabapple tree right outside my dining room window. This bird was perched about 12 feet away from where I'm sitting right now at my computer. I was able to grab the camera and crawl slowly to the window to snap a couple of pictures (this one was the best). Be sure to click on this one to "supersize" it and take note of those talons and also the way those fluffy white feathers on its tummy were blowing in the wind. Five seconds after I took this picture, the hawk flew off the branch and headed around to the other side of the house--hopefully to catch a house sparrow.

We drove about 96 miles in search of the Snowy Owl, but were not as lucky as Cindy and Vern. We did, however, see a fair number of Horned Larks and I managed to get this picture of some of them pecking for grit on the edge of a gravel road. I think they're pretty neat little birds.

And here's one more look at my backyard possum. I tried to scare it into "playing possum" by running up to the ground feeder tray it was eating from, but I only succeeded in getting it to slowly waddle out of the tray. It finally stopped under the evergreen tree and allowed me to snap a couple of pictures.
Up close, this possum looked to be a little bit smaller than Penny (my cat). Again, click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see its amazing whiskers and cute little pink toes. I would dearly love to try and feel how soft that fur is, but I've seen their sharp teeth and was probably pressing my luck just by getting so close to take this picture. Fortunately, they're still moving pretty slow in the cold weather.


Kallen305 said...

Love the picture of the hawk. I have never seen horned larks before but they sure are good looking birds.

I can't believe the possum goes out during the day. The one that lives in my yard is only out at night so I can't get any pictures of it.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Sounds like you are keeping busy in your forced retirement Ruthie. Luna has made a possum play dead in our garden. It is amazing to see them do this.

Jayne said...

WOW Ruthie, what a great shot of the hawk!! :c) I would have been shaking with anticipation being that close.

The whiskers? I was checking out those FEET on your 'possum friend.

Have a very beautiful day.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Kallen,
You might be able to find horned larks out along the edges of rural roads in your area--drive slow, though because they usually fly away as the car gets closer. We usually only see them here in the wintertime.
I usually only see the possum at night too. This one must have been really hungry to come out in the daytime.

Hi Lisa,
My job doesn't go away until the end of the month. It will be nice to have more time to spend in the backyard, but I'm sure I still won't get many of my household chores done.

Thanks Jayne, I felt extremely fortunate to be able to get such a close-up picture of that hawk.
Don't possums have the coolest feet? I love seeing their little star-shaped footprints in the snow.

Kelly said...

...when I read this sentence: "I was able to grab the camera and crawl slowly to the window," I had to laugh--we do that a lot around our house too. Love the possum and Horned Larks are one of my favorites.

Lynne said...

Ruthie what a fabulous hawk picture!! I sure wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of his talons. Horned Larks would be a lifer for me. Opossums are so cute. I never noticed they had pink toes before.
No luck on the snowy?

Mama Pea said...

What a treat to see the close-up of the Cooper's Hawk. I swear you must be listed in the Big Bird Book that all birds consult: "Be sure to stop at Ruthie J's. She takes great pictures and you'll always find something there to eat."

Your possom is so darn cute. Can he help it he looks so much like a rat?

I have been "crawling to my window" for months now trying so hard to get a picture of our one pair of cardinals. They are so very wary . . . but one of these days!

Richard said...

Your cat is probably 2 to 3 times heavier then the possum. They really are a small animal under all that fur. And take my word for it, the fur is not soft. It's really course and stiff.

Great pictures of the hawk and possum.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Kelly - I'm glad you understand (LOL) Usually the dog or cat are right there once I'm down on their "level" but not this day and I was happy to get the picture I wanted.

Hi Lynne,
Lots of horned larks on the backroads this winter. I even saw a small flock of snow buntings earlier this winter, but no Snowy Owl yet......

Oh Mama Pea, that's so exciting your cardinals are still hanging around. I hope you have a chance to get a picture soon.

Hi Richard,
I'm sure my cat's probably 3 times as big! Once I got up close, I was surprised to see how small that possum really was.

The Early Birder said...

Thanks Ruthie, I never ever thought I'd get that close to a Cooper's even if it was only on the laptop. Wow great definition.

Diane C. said...

Those talons on the hawk look quite sharp. I was also fascinated by the pink toes on the possum, looks like they could get cold out there walking in the snow.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Frank,
Me either--it was an extremely lucky few moments. I've seen the hawk in that tree before, but it usually spots me moving inside the house and flies off before I even get the camera turned on.

Hi Diane,
I loved being able to see all those different parts of the hawk I normally don't get a chance to see--same goes with the possum. Nature sure is fascinating, isn't it?

troutbirder said...

I missed the information about about a snowy unless it was at the MSP airport. John H called Mr. Science who called me and we spent the day yesterday searching for some white something crossbill and redpolls both of which (being a one year rookie birder) I've never seen NO LUCK EITHER ON EITHER ONE.

Debbie said...

Great photos, Ruthie. Love the hawk one...gorgeous.

Shellmo said...

Your possum looks cute! (They only look frightening when they open their mouth!)

MojoMan said...

Amazing photos! I'm with Lynne and Diane...The first thing I noticed was the deadly talons on that coop. It almost makes me feel bad for the sparrows. I would certainly feel bad for something like a cardinal, which they seem to seek out.

Anonymous said...

That possum is in need of a manicure, those nails look as wicked as the talons on the hawk, ouch-ouch, don't land on me. Today was my first day to see horned larks, usually I see them in Jan. Can spring be far away? They are usually the first migrants for the season.

Your pics were great so much detail. You bet I enlarged them.


RuthieJ said...

Hi Troutbirder,
Even though you didn't have any luck finding the birds you wanted on this day, hopefully you will get a chance on another day that will surely be warmer!

Thanks Debbie.

Thanks Shelley. After I went back in the house from taking this picture, I watched this possum climb the pine tree--they're pretty good climbers too!

Hi MojoMan,
I'm not sure the hawks deliberately seek the cardinals, but those bright red feathers just make them so much easier to spot than a sparrow or junco.

Hi Mom,
I looked again at that possum picture enlarged and did you notice that little "thumb" on its hind foot? They are sure neat critters and not destructive at the bird feeders like raccoons.

dguzman said...

Great Coop photo! I wish I could see more Horned Larks--I've only seen one or two; I love them!

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Delia. You really need to think about coming to Minnesota some winter for the Sax-Zim Festival! :-)

Susan Gets Native said...

Whenever I go looking for Snowy's, I get Horned Larks. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

It's a conspiracy, I tell ya.

Back away from the possum, Ruth. Just back away.

Red said...

Both of those birds would be lifers for me.

As for the Opossum... I'm baffled that with those little pink toesies that it doesn't get frostbite up there!

Meggie said...

I'm happy to see a photo of a Cooper's Hawk....I was never sure what one looked like. The possum at my house likes to eat the catfood I leave on the porch for the feral cat that lives on the porch. The possum ran into the cathouse twice last week and I couldn't get the darn thing to come out. I had to dismantle the house...take off the roof...and dump it out. What a stubborn little bugger!

twinsetellen said...

I'm loving your blog since Kathy at willyouland sent me your way. The possum brings back memories - I used to volunteer at the Natural History Museum in Cleveland, OH, and I'd handle some of the animals that couldn't be returned to the wild in our educational lectures. The possom isn't all that soft, at least the guard hairs weren't, but the toes clung to your hands so nicely. Littly nubby pads felt a bit like kitten paws, and they wrap their rather scaly tail around your your arm for more support.

Leedra said...

The only close encounter I have ever had with a opossum was in my basement garage 30 years ago. He hissed at me, like a cat, except worse. I don't ever want to be that close to another one.

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