What a delight to have winter arrive on time this year! Cold temperatures and lots of snow meant that our bird feeders were busy from morning until night. And then one morning, we noticed that all was quiet in our suburban backyard. A Sharp-shinned hawk had landed.
Wondering where all of our feathered friends were, I peered out the kitchen window to see if there was a hawk in the yard. I even used the binoculars to study the trees, but I declared the property hawk-free.
Then Bob took a turn, and with his extra height that allowed him to see over the arbour, he spotted the well-camouflaged Sharp-shinned Hawk with its back facing the sun. The black bands on the grey tail resembled shadows cast by branches; the white spots on the Hawk’s back blended seamlessly with the snow on the grey bark of the tree. It was for all intents and purposes invisible…until it turned its head.
After snapping a few photos through the windowpane, Bob exited the house by the front door and crept quietly through the side gate, along the deck, under the arbour and then out into the open where he stood within a few feet of the Sharp-shinned Hawk. It was acutely aware of his presence but remained fixed to that tree limb as if its life depended on it. Perhaps it did! Maybe it hadn’t eaten in awhile.
It was a bone-chilling cold kind of day, so Bob made quick work of photographing the Hawk because he didn’t want to interfere with the bird finding a meal. We were pleased to look at the photos later and find this one that shows the nictitating membrane partially retracted. The Sharp-shinned Hawk remained in the apple tree for about 4 hours, and we never saw if it came up with a kill.
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