Friday, February 26, 2010

...this one's not cute...

A friend mentioned that I only show cute birds doing cute things on the blog and wondered if I ever photographed non-cute birds doing non-cute things.....

...well, as a matter of fact, I do.

...it's just that I usually don't post the non-cute acts. I did post a Red-shouldered Hawk eating a vole last January after Matty spotted him, but usually, the gruesome shots stay tucked in the archives. I photographed this guy in my backyard last week and decided to post him. After all, a hawk has to do what a hawk has to do to survive, and this guy was doing it very well. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently he plucked through the bird's feathers.

After clearing the feathers, he ripped through the skin.

Hawks are definitely not cute. They are magnificent...fearsome....beautiful...but not cute.

Beak Bit
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Bird's site explains that Cooper's Hawks kill birds by squeezing them to death with their feet, not biting into the bird until it's dead. They also list that Cooper's Hawks have been known to drown birds before eating them too...

To see bird photography from all over the world, visit:

52 comments:

Roy said...

Wow! Look at the colors on him! Great shots, Kelly.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, As much as i hate to see the hawks kill the other birds, I know that it's just part of life... You captured some great pictures.

That is interesting about how they kill the birds. I didn't know that.

Hugs,
Betsy

Susan W. said...

Hey, Hawks have to eat, too! I am a big raptor fan, and you captured a beauty. It it weren't for hawks we'd be overrun with millions of little birds - like the very scary Hitchcock movie! Anyway, nice shots.

Elva Paulson said...

Those are wonderful Cooper's shots, Kelly. How awsome to get so close. One day a sharpshin nailed a pine siskin in my front yard and then spent 20 min. plucking. When finished the shapie just dropped down into the bushes for a second siskin .... another 20 min plucking ( by now I was busy drawing the sharpie), and when done nailed a third siskin! ... but this time the shapie flew off with its prey.

Penny said...

Magnificent photos, and well that is what he is made for, to keep down the smaller birds and I have no doubt there is something that preys on him.

JRandSue said...

Outstanding Kelly,top notch.
John.

holdingmoments said...

Magnificent indeed. Excellent capture by you both. :)

Roy said...

Yes its part of the wildlife etc, but I quite agree with your attitude towards showing such things Kelly. If you get children viewing such things it could be upsetting to some, especially if their parents don't wish them to see such things unless it is under a controlled basis.

Laure Ferlita said...

Bravo to you for sharing these, Kelly! He is a beauty, in his element, doing what he's made to do! Very efficiently too, I might add.

I think we do well to have a balanced outlook on Nature. We don't have to focus on the gruesome, but it only seems right to acknowledge that it exists.

ShySongbird said...

Yes, he has to eat too and is what Nature is all about although it does make slightly uncomfortable viewing for overly sensitive souls, such as me ;) Magnificent photos though Kelly!

Diane said...

It's not called "the circle of life" without a good reason. Great shots!

Jayne said...

A hawk's gotta be a hawk! Wonderful shots demonstrating their power and ability Kelly!

eileeninmd said...

WOW, awesome shots!

Montanagirl said...

You're right - Hawks have to eat too, and it's all a part of nature. Nice shots of nature in action.

Chris said...

Fantastic captures Kelly. The whole sequence is wonderful and to see this feeding moment is just marvelous. And this bird is so magnificent, its eyes, claws and colors... wow awesome!

JKoenig said...

In spite of the fact that he was having lunch, that was one beautiful hawk. Such brilliant coloring. It is amazing to see something like that up close.

Felicia said...

He actually is kind of cute and fuzzy-looking, for a raptor. (Though I'm sure the local rodents would disagree!)

Gaina said...

Great photo! I was interested in what you said about Cooper's Hawks drowning their prey because we have a program called 'Autumn Watch' in England and someone sent in video footage of a Sparrow Hawk doing exactly the same thing to a Magpie but this was the first time the behaviour had been documented here.

I wonder if this behaviour is seen in other members of the Accipiter family?

Wanda said...

Maybe not cute, but your photo sure is impressive, Kelly. The morning my mother passed I witnessed a hawk swoop down very gracefully and peacefully take a small finch. They remind me of how peacefully she passed, so they are a favorite. But, they are unsightly eaters!

Warren Baker said...

Great pics Kelly. That hawk is much the same as our sparrowhawk.

NCmountainwoman said...

Majestic trumps cute every time. Gorgeous photographs.

Dave Lewis said...

Fantastic shots!
I love when our Cooper's comes for a visit, it's a sight that not many people see...and I think he's cute!

Hilke Breder said...

Beautiful sequence, Kelly. It reminds me of Tennyson's line "Nature raw in tooth and claw". Don't we do the same thing to our food animals, just delegating the task, keeping it out of sight?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wonderful shots of a splendid bird.

"Cute" is overrated. Not everything in life is cute. We live in a real world, not some make-believe land. It would be a terrible, terrible world if everything had to be cute rather than honest. That Cooper's is doing nothing better or worse than we do when we have a cheeseburger or a bowl of oatmeal. We have become so foolish about what we teach our kids, what we're willing to admit. And in the end, it always does far more harm than good.

Steve Borichevsky said...

Thanks for showing these, Kelly. Getting shots like these takes a lot of skill and you should be proud of them although they may not be pleasant around the sewing circles. These are fascinating creatures making a living the best way they know how.

Ken Januski said...

Oddly enough I had a very similar experience and spent the last two days on a pastel of a Cooper's and his prey in the snow in our backyard on Friday.

Colleen said...

A great shot even if it is a tad gruesome. Like you said, "a hawk's gotta do..."

Linda Yarrow said...

Brilliant shots of your Cooper's Hawk. They remind me of the Sparrowhawk that also like to catch small birds and also have been known to drown them before eating them.

Anna said...

Oh Kelly I get goose bumps seeing such things, ouch. But then you are right hawk need to do what he needs to do - it is all about the food chain. Anna :)

Tabib said...

Brutal maybe, but this show nature at its best!

Sandy said...

wow, wow, great shots!

Johnny Nutcase said...

excellent! these are photos indeed. I posted a pretty gruesome red tailed eating a meal a while back, so i know what you mean about posting the cute ones :) but this is a great series! he let you get really close, these are awesme!

The Early Birder said...

Fantastic captures of 'raw nature' Kelly. I've just realised how similar the Cooper's is to our Sparrowhawk that I posted recently (but he wasn't eating!) FAB.

Jenny said...

Great set of photos of this superb hunter Kelly. I can't quite figure out what was on the menu, did you know?

Cindy said...

Great shots. The colors are gorgeous. Thanks also for the interesting information. fascinating reading.

Allison said...

OMG I JUST posted my first-ever hawk photos! Come and see! These are great--real is real, right? It can't all be the bluebirds flitting around Snow White's wishing well, right?

Garden Lily said...

It's all part of life - and death. What beautiful photos! I'm glad you shared them with us.

Neil said...

Great photos everyone has to eat.

mick said...

Awesome photos of the hawk! They are magnificent birds!

Tina said...

A wonderful capture of this raptor and its lunch. It is hard to watch one die to feed another..but at the same time I find I want to watch! A very birdee thing to say I guess. You caught some great shots of this bird..maybe, just maybe he took a house sparrow..that would make us all smile!

ps.If you want the info I received from other pa birders on where to find the Crested Caracara let me know ;-)

Elaine said...

Fantastic photos, Kelly! It is all part of the balance of nature and the food chain. I've had a Northern Shrike capture a Redpoll on my deck a few times, but within a very short time it was activity as usual at the feeders. It is all part of daily life for the birds. Not my favorite activity to watch though.....

dAwN said...

Awesome shots Kelly!

Mary said...

Those are fantastic shots! He is such a beautiful bird and your photos are so closeup and perfect. I'm like you and would rather not post the ugly parts of nature, but hawks are such great birds and they do have to eat. I think as long as I don't know which of my favorite song birds they are eating, I can stand it.

NicoleB said...

They are most def. beautiful!
And yes, they have to do what they have to do to survive.
Great shots of that!

Posted some similar ones of some Kestrels the other day :)

letspaintnature said...

I love the non-cute as well as the cute, it's just a part of nature and how we learn best! Great pictures!
Chris

Lana Gramlich said...

Nature certainly is red in tooth & claw. We feed our local "regulars," but aren't upset when we lose the occasional dove, etc. to a hawk.

dreamfalcon said...

Great pictures! We don't only have to show cute things, 'cause there are not only cute things. If it's nature it may not be "cute" but interesting never the less.

Appalachian Lady said...

Great shot--love the color. Yes, nature can be cruel. Didn't know how they actually killed the bird. Thanks.

Tammie Lee said...

fantastic captures of life in action Kelly! Not so different than more folks eating their meat for super. Your photos show great detail.

Kelly said...

...sounds like we all think alike. Thanks everyone for dropping by and the kind comments. It was very interesting to watch...although sad too. As you all say, it's part of the cycle of life.

RuthieJ said...

I love these photos Kelly! I think it's a rare privilege to see hawks in action. The ratio of hawks to songbirds in my backyard is about 1:150, so I'm always happy to see that they're still around and don't begrudge them a few songbirds to stay alive.

John (Tucker) said...

Exceptional photo!