Friday, December 30, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

It's not every day you see a Cooper's Hawk at your bird feeder. (This is my first sighting/identification of the Cooper's.)

While watching for photo-ops of various birds at my bird feeder this morning, I saw movement low in a lilac bush where its branches were dense. As I watched, this Cooper's hopped out onto the ground less than 7 yards from me - just long enough for me to get this shot. Unfortunately, I had to get it at an angle through a chain link fence.

Thinking about it, it's the perfect setup. A lilac bush isn't the deciduous forestry areas it normally prefers, but this Cooper's Hawk knew that the lilac bush was the staging area for sparrows - it being next to my feeder. The Cooper's main diet is birds - and they will chase them relentlessly through the woods. What better "diner" than an active bird feeder?  It was apparently trying to take advantage of that setup.

The Cooper's Hawk is not a stranger to the panhandle. We are in its breeding and year round range, as is most of North America.

Cooper's Hawk

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blue Jays

For a long time, I've been trying to get shots of blue jays, cardinals, etc. in our back yard. My wife had a new feeder waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year - one that she found on Made of cedar, it had a much better perch than my previous one had - one that I hoped would allow larger birds than mainly sparrows and house finches to feed.

I set it up yesterday while our white Christmas was still in the making. There was no activity at the feeder until this morning. I watched and waited.  At first only sparrows and finches showed up. After a little while my patience was rewarded, and jays finally made an appearance.  They easily helped themselves to their favorites in the mix I had waiting for them.

 The male first came in to test the waters.

 His mate followed shortly thereafter.

I will anxiously be awaiting more opportunities. I'll have to increase the sunflower seed content of the mix.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mississippi Kite

For days, we've been hearing a young Kite bawling quite often. We had a good idea where he was, but couldn't see him. I finally saw where he was yesterday. It seems they have a nest in a neighbor's tree that hangs over our driveway. It shouldn't be long before he tries his wings out.

Momma keeps a watchful eye on her little one.

I know he's being taken care of, because his momma was in the Elm in our back yard preparing a meal for him. I watched as she flew in and served his dinner.

(For more photos and info on Mississippi Kites, click HERE.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mississippi Kite

Kites have been actively breeding here in the panhandle of Texas, even now at the end of May. There seems to be quite a bit more of them this year.

I have noticed something "different" about them this year. They are sporting rusty brown on their wings. I don't know if it's a variant coming out, an indication of maturity, or just an individual thing. Here are a couple of photos showing it:

(More Mississippi Kite photos and info HERE.)

If anybody has any idea about this, please let me know.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mississippi Kite

We've been getting fleeting glimpses of kites in the panhandle over the last couple of weeks. These two made an appearance yesterday in one of our trees. The upper one brought a grasshopper to the lower one. Hopefully, they will nest in a tree we can observe them in.

(More photos and info HERE.)

One thing I noticed about these is the rusty brown streaks on the wings. I've never noticed this coloration on Mississippi Kites before.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bald Eagle

A first for me, I saw this beauty fly over as I was watching a favorite hawk site. At first I thought it was a hawk, but soon realized that it was indeed a Bald Eagle - the symbol of The United States of America.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier winters over in the Texas panhandle. It rarely breeds here. Unlike many hawks, the harrier female is distinctly different in appearance from the male. It is also much larger. The Northern Harrier is up to 24" in length with a wingspan of up to 4 1/2 feet. This member of the hawk family has an owl-like facial disc that allows it to hunt by sound as well as sight. Its soft feathers allow for it to silently cruise low over fields, undetected by its prey. Using these ambush tactics, its prey stands no chance of escape.

(Female Northern Harrier)
(More images and info on the Northern Harrier HERE.)