The young Cooper's hawk came swooping around the corner of the cottage a few minutes ago. All the feeder birds scatted, in a hundred different directions. As usual, a few elected to dive into the discarded Christmas tree which I place nearby for just such a purpose. I put the tree out on New Year's Day, or whatever day we take down our holiday decorations, and leave it under the feeders until spring's burgeoning leaves provide even better cover for escape,
It seems only fair, giving the sparrows and finches, titmice and chickadees this handy hidy-hole, seeing as how it's my buffet that concentrates their numbers in a small area in the first place and regularly puts them in danger. I don't know how many feathered lives these repurposed trees have saved over the years, but it's certainly worth the effort. Besides, it's fun watching the frustrated hawk play hide-and-seek with whoever makes it into the shelter.
The feeder birds plunge into the maze of greenery. The Cooper's lands on top, looks down, marks his victims—then goes in for the kill…and his would-be entrées squirt out the sides. Sometimes the hawk tries a side approach, hopping around the horizontal tree. The moment he chooses an entry point and leaps in, the trapped birds make their escape out the opposite side. Unless a bird panics and flies out too soon, or flies the wrong way, or hesitates when the hawk comes in, seldom does anyone who dodges into the tree shelter get caught.
That was again the case a few minutes ago. The hawk tried, several times, to corner a bird within the evergreen's interior, but couldn't outmaneuver his targets. When he emerged from the tangle and hopped back atop the tree to work off his annoyance by glaring at various inanimate objects, I took his portrait, a nice head shot that seems to reveal a bit of the hungry hunter's vexation. You can probably tell it is dark and overcast here today. And just in the last few minutes has started raining. It's colder, too, than it has been for maybe a week, though not all that cold for February.
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You might also notice I've replaced my own head shot, a do-it-yourselfer from earlier this morning, before the clouds moved in. It seemed like the honest thing to do, seeing as how the previous picture was taken six or seven years ago—and I've since grown grayer, fatter, and of course, older. It is what it is, alas, and I do resemble the fellow in the photo.