Sunday, July 1, 2012

Raptor Spa

For a lot of people with backyard bird feeders, the appearance of a hawk is a horrifying experience.  For me, the appearance of a hawk is always greeted with excitement.  The ratio of hawks to songbirds in my backyard is probably about 1:150, so I'm not worried about the hawks decimating my songbirds (the free-roaming cats and raccoons cause much more damage).  I know there is a Cooper's Hawk who visits my backyard regularly and usually the chickadees, robins and bluejays sound the alarm.  This time of year, the grackles are especially watchful because they have all kinds of nests around here and I've found several piles of juvenile grackle feathers lately (not gonna complain about losing a few grackle babies, that's for sure!)
Since the weather's been so hot already this summer, keeping the birdbaths full is almost a full-time job and on this 90+ degree day back on June 10th, a Cooper's Hawk decided to take advantage of a shallow birdbath in my backyard for a little spa session.  Fortunately I was home on this day and managed to capture these photos out the kitchen window.  Hope you enjoy them!

Hope you're enjoying your summer and be sure to keep your birdbaths full during these hot days for all of the backyard critters and birds -- raptors included!


Mollie said...

I was just on Chicken Mama's blog and saw yours had a new post. Love the photo shoot of the Cooper's Hawk having a spa moment. Must have felt good--especially love the second photo where s/he looks totally unkempt! Not that it matters to them. Must have washed away all those little mites or whatever that get into their feathers.
Why don't people like grackles?

stephen said...

Thank you for sharing your photographs of the Cooper's Hawk. Absolutely wonderful to view!!!

Gaelyn said...

What an awesome sighting and photo op. Hawks need a bath once in a while, and a meal too.

Allen and Debby Graber said...

Wow! We have Cooper Hawks that swoop down on the finches and sparrows. Right now I am in a battle with grackles. I just purchased a feeder that the bird store said would keep them out. Ha. They figured it out. I am so frustrated with all the grackles. My granddaughters think they are pretty (the blue shine on the head especially) and the 4 year old said "But Nana, God made all the birdies." I find them a nuisance just the same. Bad attitude and I would prefer the prettier song birds who seem to keep their distance. I know they don't like safflower, but safflower makes a mess on the deck. I put safflower in another feeder.

Taos Sunflower said...

These pictures are SO cool!! We have a Cooper's Hawk here in our neighborhood in San Diego. Once in a while he zooms past our upstairs windows while on his/her way to snacking on one of our doves, pigeons or other birds that hang out in our yard.

KGMom said...

Oh, Ruthie--what a wonderful series of photos. I never would have thought you'd catch a raptor bathing. We too have a bird bath, but only the robins and doves bathe full body.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Mollie.
Grackles are mostly a pain for me because they arrive in large flocks, empty all the birdfeeders and once the babies hatch, the adults love to target the birdbaths (and other choice spots -- like the garage door) with fecal sacs from their nests. They're only a problem for a few months,but it's still annoying. I really shouldn't complain though -- I've found more than the usual number of grackle feather piles in the yard this summer, indicating the Cooper's Hawk had a successful hunt! :-)

Thank you Stephen. Glad you enjoyed it.

You got that right Gaelyn. Thanks for the compliments also.

Hi Debbie,
Are most of your grackles gone yet? I'm seeing them only occasionally in my yard now -- they usually depart from my yard shortly after July 4th when their hatchlings are old enough to get out on their own.

Thanks Donna. How big is your birdbath? The one my Coop is bathing in holds 2 gallons of water, is about 14" across & 2 " deep. I've seen the crows bathing in it too. The smaller birds generally use my smaller birdbaths that only hold a gallon of water. (If you have a Wild Birds Unlimited store near you, they sell these big basins there & not too expensive either.)

thecrazysheeplady said...