Guess who ruined my Great Backyard Bird Count? There was so much snow cover that rodents were easy to see scurrying across the white snow in the State Park, but rodents not on the menu today?
So below, the story unfolds in this backyard, breath-holding drama.
One I was sure would end in a bloodbath and blue feathers flying. See the hungry hawk on the left and the petrified blue jay on the right? Hawks have blue jays for dinner and I was scared for my little buddy.
Jays are a hardier meal than a spindly sparrow, but at a weight between 3.1–7.7 oz, the Sharp-Shinned can catch and take flight with a blue jay at 2.5–3.5 oz . Female hawks are at the higher weight and are usually larger than males. Hawks can carry prey that is up to about half their own body weight. But…
I could see the chatty jay was very nervous being the only songbird left in the tree. Shouldn’t he be quiet in such a predicament? Something on his mind, maybe?
Although very capable of capturing the jay, the hawk was not interested in him. What was the jay jabbering about that kept the hawk at bay?
This hawk had its weapons at the ready.
- Talons for piercing and crushing.
- Beak, for tearing apart flesh.
- Eyesight for hunting from high in treetops or while soaring.
- Agile and acrobatic flying.
The jay had every reason to fear, but…
The hawk’s sights were set on smaller fare. He perched himself in the lilac after two quick, failed attempts at bagging a sparrow in the Juniper.
He then flushed a sparrow from the Concolor, but missed it before the sparrow hastily went for cover.
It was not his lucky day. Mine either as I could not get much of the action from my window.
Persistent and hungry, he waited it out to see if more birds would falter and take flight. After all, that is what any good hunter would do.
He spots one. An unlucky sparrow makes a fatal mistake.
All I get is snow flying and an empty branch. If you are squeamish and don’t care to see nature in action… Stop reading NOW.
I warned you.
He has to eat too. Here he is under a tall Juniper filled with quivering sparrows, dining on one of their feeder mates.
But wait, we have a second hawk! Yes, another moves in as sparrows took the opportunity to flee. Yep, the newcomer bags a sparrow immediately.
Songbirds make up about 90 percent of the Sharp-shinned Hawk’s diet. Had either been a female, the Blue Jay would have been toast.
Sorry if you didn’t bail on the images…
Cooper’s or a Sharp-shinned Hawk, check out this site.
And our jay? It remained in the pear through all the commotion. He finally quieted down after the first hawk got a sparrow. I think he was speechless when the second flew in. And my garden remained quiet, not a bird to be heard.