Friday, January 2, 2009

Sharpie and Squirrels.

It's not unusual to see Sharp-shinned Hawks in Richmond, but it is unusual to get much of a look at one. Typically they've already shot past your head and disappeared into a hedge or behind a house by the time you've said, "Oh, it's a Sharp...."

To which the person with you replies, "A what?" No wonder they're known as Sharpies. The full name takes too long to spit out.

So it was a nice surprise yesterday when one showed up in the backyard, in view of the breakfast nook, to terrorize the squirrels who have taken to scrounging beneath the sunflower seed feeder.

Swoop after swoop. It wasn't clear why she was after them. Surely an Eastern Gray Squirrel is more than a match for a small hawk. Was she trying to scare away the squirrels, thus allow the preferred food--songbirds-- to return? Could that much be going on in a little hawk brain?

One of the squirrels (black one) was spooked, and hid beneath a branch atop the fence, doing a squirrel-version thousand-yard stare. The gray one, however, was annoyed, and climbed a lilac to battle(?) the bird.

They chased each other around in the branches for a few minutes like superhero rivals with different but matched powers, but never made physical contact. Eventually the squirrel gave up and went away, leaving the hawk alone in the yard. She flew down and landed on the fence.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, female.

Here she is, looking sharp. Notice her fluffy spats.

This is not quite as sharp an image, but I included it to show that they are pretty good at the head-on-backwards owl trick.


Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

What a lot of critter drama

Marvin said...

Sometimes critters just don't read the books and find out how they're supposed to behave.

Nice shots of the sharpie.