Skybird - z5, Denver, ColoradoJanuary 11, 2009

Hi all,

I saw a bird in my backyard today that I have almost positively identified at a Gray Hawk! Everything I can find says they "shouldnt" be found north of Southern Arizona! The Gray Hawk isnÂt even listed in my Birds of Denver and the Front Range book! But absolutely nothing else I can find looks even remotely like what I saw!

Gray Hawk - Field Guide to Birds of North America

It was pretty much evenly light gray all over, and the three wide black bands on the tail were unmistakable--also the wide fan shape of the tail when it flew away. And when it came back, briefly, the third time and sat on top of my lattice, I estimated how big it was. The tail went most of the way down the first "space," so I estimated that the whole bird would have "taken up" at least two spaces. That means it would have been at least 14" long, and probably a little bit longer. The shape was definitely a hawk! Nothing else I looked up was even close to that heavy, blocky, hawk shape!

So my question is: Has anybody else in the Rocky Mountain area ever seen a Gray Hawk?

Sure this is a gardening question! The hawk was in my garden!


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stevation(z5a Utah)

Hey Skybird -- I just remembered I haven't sent your seeds yet! I've been checked out on internet forums for the past month -- trying to stay focused on some other tasks and work. I'll send them this week.

Anyway, I'm willing to bet your hawk was a Goshawk. Click the link below to see one. They're not extremely common but are found throughout the Rockies. They eat birds. They have somewhat short wings compared to a common Red-Tail Hawk, and they usually live in forests, although they are seen in the open as well. They're closely related to Cooper's Hawks, which look the same but have a rusty-colored underside. I've seen Cooper's around here a few times (not many) but I don't think I've ever seen a Goshawk.

What do you think? Could that be it? It's probably much more likely than the Gray Hawk.

I used to really be into birding when I was kid. I have a handy field guide in the house, and the other day, I saw a bird in the backyard I'd never noticed. I think it was a Spotted Towhee. It was cool to find a new bird in the guide.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:45PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

No problem at all with the seed, Steve. Whenever you have time! Did you get your remodeling done?

With the bird, the Goshawk is one of the ones I looked at when I was trying to figure out what it was, but its just not right! The one I saw was much lighter gray, and didnt have the black head and eye stripes. And the black bands on the tail were very black and obviousjust like in the picture. And when it flew away (by the time it came back the third time I was REALLY watching to see as much as I could to try to identify it) the tail formed a wide, banded fanjust like in the picture. The Goshowks tail is much more pointed when perched in the picture, and not really fan-shaped at all in flight.

Its hard for me to believe, too, that it was a Gray Hawk, because what on earth would a "tropical" bird be doing up here in winter, but it was very "disheveled" looking, almost like you might expect an "out of place" bird to look! The feathers almost looked like it was moltingwhich it obviously wasnt in winter, but they were kind of sticking out here and there. It almost looked like something it had grabbed to eat had fought back! Im home tomorrow. I doubt it, but maybe itll show up again so I can get another look. But unless somebody can come up with another light gray hawk with three wide black bands on the tail, that has to be what it is.

I agree! Its really fun to spot something you havent seen before! I have the Golden Guide to Field Identification: Birds of North America, which is falling apart, and has post-it notes on all the pages with birds Ive seen in the last 10 years or so. I put the date I first saw it, and if its at all unusual, I add dates of additional sightings. Sure wish I had cardinals like my brother back in Illinois does!

Happy birding,

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:01AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Hmmmm... Unless it escaped from a zoo or aviary, I'm suspicious about the Gray Hawk ID. What about a Northern Harrier? Look that one up on that site. The males are gray while the females are more brown. They're found throughout our area, although I don't see them nearly as much as I did in California's Central Valley. The key is whether it had the horizontal banding on the chest like the Gray Hawk or the vertical spot/streaks like the harrier. But the tail has the bands you mentioned. The tail also has a tell-tale white patch on the rump.

BTW, I think Goshawks could certainly fan their tail out, and I wouldn't exclude it by the tail shape. But if it didn't have the black on the head, that's a more important indicator.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:03PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

That one is a possibility, Steve, and certainly more likely than the Gray Hawk. I had dismissed it when I started looking because the Denver book shows it a DARK brown, and shaped quite differently than what I sawbut the pics in that book are sketches. I mostly use that book just to look up Front Range possibilities, and then look up better pictures elsewhere. But my Golden book was calling the Northern Harrier a Marsh Hawk, and I didnt know they were the same thing.

There are still some problems, tho! I dont remember the black on the wingtips when it flew away, but then I could have missed it because I was pretty much transfixed by the tail which was SO widely fanned, and had such obvious black bands. Ive googled images of the Harrier, and the tail still doesnt look quite rightthe pics Im finding all show the bands much lighter and much less obvious. And they show the wings much darker than what I saw, tho there can obviously be some pretty big differences between summer and winter color. What I saw was a VERY light gray. Im not sure about the breast pattern, tho it could have been the vertical markings of the Harrier. I was distracted by the "ruffled," ratty looking feathers all overbut it could have been the Harrier markings. I DO hope it comes back! I was out filling the feeders this morning, and I saw a large bird soaring overhead that looked whitewith dark wingtipsso if thats the same thing, it could be the Harrier!

AND according to the Denver book, they live at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which is now a wildlife preserveand is only 10 to 15 miles away from me!

SO, all things considered, youre probably right about the Northern Harrier!

Thank you! That definitely makes more sense than a Gray Hawk!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:38PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

OMG! It IS a Northern Harrier, Steve! Theres a PAIR of them! The female showed up!

It was sitting on top of the lattice on the back fence, when traipsing along the top of the fence, 2' below the bird, comes a squirrel! I thought it was a goner! The stupid squirrel gets curious and starts climbing up toward the Harrier, but the bird just flew to a low branch on the cottonwood in my neighbors yardabout 4-5 yards away from the lattice. Then the squirrel, first time Ive ever seen him do this, climbed to the TOP of the lattice and just sat there perched right on top out in the open. I was SURE he was gonna get grabbed then, but the bird just ignored him! Lucky squirrel!

I got a couple pictures of the bird, but I dont know when Ill get them downloaded. Have stuff I MUST get done today, and then Im on for 5 days, so it could be a week. And it's pretty far away, but when I crop the pics itll bring it into view better. But she was sitting on the branch with her back to me, so Im not sure how much youll be able to see. Hopefully one or both of them will come sit on the lattice again where I can get a better shot!

DEFINITELY a Northern Harrier!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 4:14PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Yeah, harriers are the same thing as marsh hawks. Which is why I was surprised to know they live here in the Rockies -- I knew they liked the marshes and deltas of central California, but our habitat is so different here. But still, with the distinct tail banding, maybe you did see a different hawk.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 4:20PM
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Skybird, hawks are highly polymorphic and you need to use just about anything other than color to identify them.

They are so variable; I could almost swear that the ornithologists have just separated the species by size, length of tail, and length of wings. Well, that could just be layman me . . . If I know whether they are Buteos, Accipters or Falcons that's usually the best I can hope for.

I envy you seeing them in your backyard. Often, they are a silhouette against a bright sky.

S' (earthbound)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 5:11PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

When the male first showed up yesterday, Digit, I could hardly believe my eyes. And today, when I looked up and saw the female, I was starting to wonder if I was hallucinating! It was just incredible! My backyard isnt very deep, so I really wasnt very far away from them.

Im absolutely certain, now, that they are Northern Harriers. The female definitely looks like the pictures! Clearly theyre traveling around as a pair. And Im virtually certain the large bird I saw overhead this morning was the male. I feed the birds, and as far as I know, Im the only one anywhere near here who does, so I have an ample supply of small birds around here almost constantly. And in addition to that, the neighbors behind me have three BIG dogs, and a weedy, beaten down, grassless backyard, that has railroad ties and various other debris laying around, so Im certain there are mice around there. Sounds like Raptor Heaven Buffet to me! And there's a big pond/lake about a half a mile from here. Not that I want my birds to be eaten (tho I DO wish theyd gobble down the herd of blackbirds I have!), but I do hope they hang around for a little while at least so I get to see them a few more times. The female Harrier was back one more time this afternoon. It sat back on the lattice, but before I could get my camera turned on and get to the window, it flew away again. Actually, I think it flew down into the neighbors yard. When Im home, Ill be watching!

The only other raptor Ive seen "close up" was a Prairie Falcon that I saw in my backyard briefly one day at my last houseway back in 02!

And some people think bird watching is boring!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 9:41PM
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I remember early one morning at a home in the city. I came down stairs and opened the blinds on the front window.

Not more than 20 feet from my window was a Saw-whet Owl looking at me. As long as I stood in the window the little owl sat on a tree branch and stared back at me. I briefly turned away and when I looked back, the owl was gone.

The bird on that morning was like an illusion. I lived in that home for 9 years and never again saw an owl in my yard.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:03PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Awwwww! How cute!

I want one!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:17PM
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Here is a picture that my wife and I managed to shoot just outside our kitchen window, perched on a hammock post. We seem to think it's a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk but not certain. One thing for sure, when this guy is around there is not a winged creature stirring. It's indeed a joy to see these kind of things this time of year as it fills in the gap before spring. Hope it gets here soon!


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 8:39PM
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Dang George, if I was a little bird, I would hide in a corner when your kiddo is around too. Look at the talons on him, OUCH!!

All this talk of hawks makes me think I should see about getting some pics of the visitors I have around here. Plenty of red-tailed hawks and even a few golden eagles, I think (kinda hard to tell when your trying to avoid hitting him and he is trying to avoid the windshield). I wish we had a few more though. We still have plenty of free-loading finches and magpies here.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:05PM
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Great photograph, George!

And, I think you are right on the ID. The Sharp-shinned is what shows up in backyards around here. Long tail, short wings - - really, really maneuverable.

I don't feed the little birds, altho' maybe I should make an exception during Winter. There are, at least, 2 nests here and the neighbor put 8 birdhouses out on her garage last year. Then she set up a feeder . . . so much confusion! Not one of her birdhouses had a tenant, not one. She has moved and left the houses. If there's no millet-seed-chaos, I bet the broody mommas are goin' to show up in a major way this Spring.

Dad feeds the birds but the Sharp-shinned became a fairly regular visitor. The bird feeder was on one side of the house in an apple tree. The best protection was a big spruce on the other side of the house.

The hawk got real good at flying just over the ridge of the house between the spruce and the apple. Bang!!

Sometimes the first we would see of the raid was feathers falling in front of the window. Then the hawk would land on the fence at the far side of the yard with lunch.

I noticed that the house finches Dad feeds learned to just "hunker down" in the apple tree when the hawk would show up. After a moment's hesitation - they'd race off for the spruce. By that time, the hawk would be sitting on the fence with nothin'.

Then he'd cruise off to other backyards.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 4:02PM
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Are you all sure it wasn't a Blue-footed Booby, or a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak? No? How about a Tufted Titmouse? Well those are my three guesses anyway.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 6:12PM
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You can borrow my Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker (Prionochilus xanthopygius) if it would be of any use.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 12:25PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)


Sorry, I was "checked out" for a few weeks and didn't see your response. You posted that one just before I posted mine, so I hadn't seen it. Glad to see you ID'ed them, and glad I could help! I think Harriers are most adept at eating small rodents, rather than birds. The squirrel was probably a little too big them, anyway. But awfully stupid of that squirrel to take that risk!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 7:21PM
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Dan Staley

When I lived in Western WA, we had two pair of Northern Harriers near my property, as well as a number of other raptors (and lots of bald eagles). They are one of my favorites to watch.

Most of the time you'd see them cruising just above ground level, but occasionally you'd get to enjoy watching them hunt on the wing, usually starlings. They benefit from brush piles with grasses around them, as mice and voles use these for cover and nesting material.

You always want to use shape in flight, as color is highly variable. Northern Harrier has a distinct shape that sets it apart from hawks. Sibley's is invaluable in this regard.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 10:44AM
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Azura(z5 CO)

There is a red tailed hawk that has staked out my backyard and the greenbelt beyond it since the end of last summer. Ive seen it on each of the neighboring houses, our roof, the deck and the fences. I still havent dared to let my cats go outside on vole patrol with our coyote population but this hawk has come to my rescue, decimating the vole and pocket gopher population. wOooo!
I guess the red tailed hawk isnt a very exciting or rare variety but I'm sure happy to see him/her. I havent seen goshawks in this area but I'll have to ask my dad because he has an uncanny ability to spot birds from miles away.
Skybird, have you been visited by the goshawk again?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 12:54PM
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I saw a shrike on my little trip down into the Palouse the other day. I was thinking that they would be a more common bird in the open country of UT, CO, and WY but looking at the map, maybe that isn't so.

A predatory songbird . . . I wonder why it is called a "song" bird? If you click the song link, you'll probably be left wondering, too.

Azura, I think there are plenty of folks who have lain out on an open hillside and watched a redtail drawing circles in a blue Summer sky . . . lovely. Of course, they can be appreciated for being murder on rodent populations, also.

BTW, that flowerpecker is a real bird. But with a name like that, also my lame attempt at humor.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 6:04PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Steve, the Loggerhead Shrike is actually the more common one in much of the continental U.S. I used to see a lot of them in Northern California, but I haven't noticed them here in Utah Valley. Evidently, they're here, but I haven't seen them.

I like how they're also known as "butcher birds" because they'll often take grasshoppers and other small prey and impale them on barbed wire before they eat them.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 1:08AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi all,

Well I finally got my pics downloaded! Here are the best two pictures of the female Northern Harrier. The male never came back, so I dont have any pics of him. Its hard to believe how very different the male and female were! The pics arent very goodthe bird was in my neighbors yard, and I cropped them a lot to try to get close enough to see it. Ive also discovered that the pics I took out of the upstairs windows are real gray and washed out lookingthe pics from the lower level family room window come out much better. I guess its the angle thru the glass when Im upstairs, or else theres some different kind of glass in those windowsthey are a different brand I think. So I guess Ill have to try to get my pics from the family room from now on, but Im close enough to the birds down here that I easily scare them away when I get anywhere near the windows. Ill have to see how sneaky I can be! Cat in the making!!!

Ive been around here about half the time since my last post, and I havent seen them again. I still really, really hope they come back a few more times!

This is out of the upstairs window, so its milky looking, but heres my male Hairy Woodpecker.

Downstairs window heres the female.

Upstairs window heres a bunch of my House Finches.

Upstairs my Flicker, I think this is the female but cant be sure with the poor pic.

The Flickers and Woodpeckers are around here a lot so Ill have to try to get some "downstairs" pics!

About 10 years ago there used to be an almost unbelievable number of Bald Eagles up this way along 120th. It was all undeveloped on the north side, and there were a lot of big old cottonwoods and big fields of plump prairie dogs. One morning (before I started flying) on my way to work I counted TWELVE of them in the trees and in the sky along about a 6 mile stretch of 120th! Its all developed nowold trees and prairie dogs are goneand the Eagles are gone too! Ive heard there are a LOT of them over at Rocky Mountain Arsenalwhich is now a nature preserve. I really must get over there to do some "sight seeing" one of these days!

Id love to borrow your P.x., Digit! Send it right over! ;-)

I wish the Harrier HAD grabbed the squirrel, Steve! That would be one less to be digging in my perennial beds!

Digit, if your dad leaves the millet out of the feeders, itll end the feeding chaos. The House Sparrows will disappear! Ever since I discovered that I just feed safflower, black oil sunflower, thistle, suet, and shelled peanuts/nuts. Havent had many takers on the peanuts at this house, but I did see the Woodpeckers eating them last week.

Azura, its nice to see you around here again! I hope everything is going well for you by now.

Tweet, tweet,

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 1:40AM
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Dan Staley

Wow - that's a brave...hmmm...what the heck?! Looks like a juvenile northern goshawk from here, with the white eyebrow, tail pointing down and wings separate from body. Harriers don't like to be so close to humans. But this is why the hobby is so fun - raptors are hard to ID.

Nonetheless, skybird, you must have a nice vibe around your property for it to come so close. Else your rodent population is happy. ;o) You are lucky indeed.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 10:42AM
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The loggerhead must be the one I see in the Summer - same silly "song." In my limited sightings, the shrike is usually seen on a fence or power line near a lone tree in the middle of a lot of open space - prairie country.

Steve, it is easy to miss them since humans are usually in a car whizzing thru all the open space. Shrikes aren't of any size and they are gray. I think they would be a good bird for the bicyclist. Still don't know why they are called a songbird. They are hawk types . . . I think, 'cept they look like, what . . . a large sparrow?

Dad only feeds thistle and sunflower seeds for the very reason you mentioned, Skybird. I'm curious if people with feeders have nests in their yards . . . just doesn't seem to happen but I've never asked that question before.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 12:15PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Skybird, I'm going to have to agree with Dan that it looks like a Goshawk after all. That dark cap on its head immediately made me think "it's got to be an accipiter." And I didn't realize immature goshawks are brown in color. I've looked at a few more photos, and I don't think that fits the description of a Harrier.

This also makes sense if you're feeding lots of little birds. Goshawks, Coopers hawks, and Sharp-Shinned hawks are the accipiter family, and they love to dive in on feeding songbirds.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 2:15PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Alright now! You guys are confusin me! Ive checked my books and Ive googled a bunch of pictures onlineand I dont know what it was that was here.

The pic of the bird I posted is a little misleading. The bird I saw was WAY browner than it looks in the pics. I know, I knowdont go by the color! And its sitting on the branch with its back toward me. I was amazed that I was able to get a pic when it turned its head in my direction briefly a couple times. Heres the third pic I got where you can (kinda) see that its facing away from mebut its the worst quality pic.

I figured out why the pictures from upstairs are distorted! Theyre taken thru the screenand the birds on the feeders in the backyard look even worse because of the "down" angle of the camera thru the screen. The BIG bird isnt quite as bad since the neighbors yard is higher than mine, so it was taken on somewhat more of the same level with me.

In the second pic above the bird had turned a little bit more sideways, but its still sitting on the branch facing away from me.

With all the pictures Ive looked at, I really dont know, now, what it was. I first saw it on top of the lattice at my back fence, which is only about 25' away from the windowI have a very shallow backyardand I sure didnt notice any black eye stripe or black and white head striping. Actually, I didnt notice any black or gray at all. It sat on that branch and I watched it for close to 10 minutes. Tho the pic doesnt show it, it was brown and tan. I guess I havent found any immature pics, cause all the ones Ive found are very much gray to dark gray. I think the tail pointing down so much in the pic was as much a balancing act as anything. The branch it was on was very long and pretty small for such a large bird (at least 15-18"), and it was moving around a lot. So I dont think the position of the tail is telling in this case.

And then theres still the problem of what the first bird I saw wasthe purpose of this post. It was really VERY different. When I saw the second one the next day I assumed it was a pair since males and females can be quite different in size and colorand since a lot of birds do travel around in pairs, but the closest picture Ive found yet of the original bird is the first pic I linked of the Gray Hawkwhich we all agree is wasnt! But it was exactly like that picture, but lighteralmost whitewith very obvious, wide, dark banding on the tailwhich was very widely fanned when it flew away.

Maybe I just need to concede thatunless one or both come back and I get better picturesIm never going to know for sure what they were.

Whatever they were, Im glad I got to see them!

Skybird (who is easily identifiable by the arms and legsand the uniform!)

P.S. Digit, my pair of robins (that are here all winter) nest in my backyard every year, but that obviously has nothing to do with the feeders. I do think it might have to do with the constant water sourceand the easy access to worms in the worked soil in the veggie garden. And there was a nest in one of the neighbors cottonwoods that overhangs my yard, but I dont know what was in it! I only know it was there because its been falling into my backyard all fall and winter! Other than that I havent seen any other nests, but then I dont actually have any deciduous trees, and Ive never seen any nests in the two upright junipersand I dont have any bird houses out since I dont have anywhere to hang them. Wait! I've had a house sparrow nest in the Euonymous that grows up the side of my house right by the steps down off of the deck every year! Do they count as birds? They've been building it on top of the bend in the downspout where they were completely hidden by the foliage. But they won't be back! I've pulled almost all of the Euonymous down! It was growing up under the siding and the shingles!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 11:22PM
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Skybird, who can identify every ornamental plant in a 3 mile radius but doesn't notice that she's looking thru a screen on the other side of window glass . . .

Well, now I know - birds WILL nest near lots of feeding activity. My neighbor's experiment was to put up, what was it, 8 or 9 bird houses on her garage. Then she positioned a feeder between house and garage. She didn't have a single resident in the birdhouses.

She was apparently so frustrated by the whole thing that when she moved this Fall, she left all her nifty birdhouses behind. Maybe the birds will get some use out of them this year.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 1:04AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

ROFL! I had to google it to be sure it was really a screen, Digit! Now I know what one looks like!

If your neighbors bird houses were all mounted on the garage, that could possibly explain why they werent occupied. A lot of birds have very specific "requirements" for the placement of their abode! Many prefer something hanging in a tree or mounted on a pole which makes it less accessible to varmints, and some prefer a specific heightchickadees are supposed to prefer about 10' off the ground, and I dont remember the exact height, but Purple Marten houses need to be on a pole and a certain distance from the ground, and other birds have their own specifications! (My brother in IL owns a wild bird supply store!) So, depending on where and how they were attached to the garage, Im guessing that was the problem rather than the feeding frenzy. There may have constantly been squirrels disturbing the nests and scaring off the birds. But I AM surprised she didnt get some house sparrows in them! Theyll nest just about anywhere as near as I can tell! I have a wooden house with a chickadee door, but I dont have any way to put it up at this house! Some day I hope to put in a 10' pole or something to mount it on. I love chickadees, and cant believe how rarely I see them at this housewhich is only 1½ miles away from the last one where I had LOTS of them. But then I dont have any deciduous trees in my yard like I did at the last house! Wish I had room for a tree!!!

Anyway, thanks for the laugh!


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 1:52AM
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Dan Staley

As in plants, there are key indicators for bird ID as well.

Behaviorally, northern harriers don't like people nearby (aren't particularly synanthropic). Goshawks will sit on telephone lines near folks if a tree isn't nearby. You'll rarely see a harrier in a backyard. Harriers often will fly just over the weed tops, or rise to hunt on the wing. Goshawks sit quietly then 'pounce', either on birds or if they see voles or mice.

Optically, harriers perch with their tails in line with their back (compare to kestrel ID, which 'pump' their tails), goshawks tails generally point down. You often can't see the flight feathers of harrier wings when perching, whereas goshawk wingtips are usu visible. The white speckles on the shoulder are a goshawk indicator, whereas harriers are not so prominent. The last indicator for me in the foto was the white eyebrow, which is what juvenile goshawks have (this last from Sibley's).

All this is making me miss Enumclaw, where the raptors were constantly visible, hunting something...


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:21AM
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Skybird, think about a sunflower & whether you have room for one of 2 of those. Not only will the chickadees show an interest in the ripening seeds but you should get goldfinches.

Millet plants work for your house finches - I never saw sparrows show any interest. As the millet ripens, the finches will strip the plants in just a couple days.

I can't think what English sparrows care about in the garden. (I love blaming the English for them! ;o) They clean the aphids off the roses.

All this talk about birds IS FUN! (Do you want any updates on my chickens!! Oh well, okay . . .)


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Dan Staley

Skybird, think about a sunflower & whether you have room for one of 2 of those. Not only will the chickadees show an interest in the ripening seeds but you should get goldfinches.

We enjoy the finches landing on our sunflowers as well, in addition to the joy of having Helianthus salcifolius "First Light" close out the season and feed whatever lands on the hundreds of small seed heads. Helianthus maximiliana too, but that's not for everyone.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 1:55PM
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This bird was definitely an Accipiter, not a Northern Harrier. But Goshawks themselves are rarely encountered as they are a notoriously elusive forest species. Also, juvenile Goshawks are more heavily streaked below and paler above than the juvenile bird in these photos.

No reason to rule out Cooper's Hawk here. Juveniles often show a white supercilium as well. This photo is of a juvenile Cooper's Hawk and the gray one was the adult. It doesn't sound like the front side of the bird was seen well enough to rule out Cooper's. The lack of head definition on the adult (which is a prominent feature) and description of size (Goshawks are massive!), along with backyard stalking behavior, is enough to highly doubt a Goshawk.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 5:41PM
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