Alas, Poor Dove . . .

The dove has experienced the Raptor. It is either a sharp-shinned hawk, or a Cooper’s hawk. The two are almost identical, other than the shape of the feathers on their heads.

We have three bird feeders, and the doves scavenge off what the smaller birds scatter. Every so often, a hawk “hunts over bait,” as Dorothy G phrased it. The bird books say to take down the feeders when that happens, so the hawk won’t hang around. As many doves and grackles and starlings as we have? Nah!

11 thoughts on “Alas, Poor Dove . . .

  1. You can also distinguish the two by size, IF there’s something of known scale handy. And there are subtle differences in the silhouette between a Sharpie and a Cooper’s in flight. But usually it takes an expert to tell the difference for a single grounded bird.

    I am not an expert, just a journeyman birder, but my guess is that this is a Sharp-shinned.

  2. Hunting over bait. That’s a good way to phrase that.
    We used to say that our bird feeder did indeed feed all the birds.

  3. The Red-tailed hawks usually prefer ground squirrels over the Ring-neck doves we get here. The California quail are wary enough and collect in groups (6 to 30 together is the usual range) so that they seldom get clobbered.

    We have a feral cat around, but it’s small and the doves are pretty big. Might be too much of a fair fight for the kitteh. (It’s an even matchup between a Ringneck and a Steller’s Jay. The doves and food are like an ambitious politician and a microphone.)

  4. Our Red-tailed hawks get big, large enough for squirrels, rabbits, and small groundhogs. I get used to the ‘poof’ of fur as well as feathers. Additional pest control for the garden. I’ve seen red-shouldered hawks sitting on top of the neighbor’s shed, watching bunnies with a twitch of the head.

    The real players, and this affects the feral and outdoor cats, are the ones with the very deep “WHO-WHOWHO!” call that I hear. There’s a great horned owl back in the trees, but no one wants to annoy them at the nest.

    • When a great horned owl cruises by you realize how subtly noisy the flight of other birds is.

      My mother was rudely disturbed one morning a few years back by shrieking in the live oak tree outside her kitchen window. It was a juvenile hawk, I think a red tail, hawk killing a squirrel. She got to see the bird’s messy feeding. I got to clean it up.

    • $SPOUSE once found The Headless Jackrabbit near the house. Not happy to see it. Big bunny, so it was most likely one of the great horned owls. A nearby rancher lost a bunch of emus to GHOs. He surprised one;6′ wingspan. I’ve only heard them; the smaller owls occasionally show in daytime. When several different owls call out on some nights, it’s a real hootenanny.

      • I saw a Great Horned Owl one evening last spring, startled me as it passed in front of me before heading across the street to a tree. I’d heard them over the years, usually in the very, very early mornings, but wasn’t positive I wasn’t imagining things. I wasn’t.

        We also have a colony of Mississippi Kites. That can add excitement to one’s stroll. They are just a wee, titch bit territorial.

  5. What I’ve been told by better birders than myself, is that Sharpies are about the same size as a bluejay. We’ve got some in the neighborhood right now. I get to see them on my morning walks. Very agile fliers and it’s easy to for me to thing they are something else. I’ve learned to stop, watch a bit and been rewarded by a couple of good sightings

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