Thursday, 25 February 2010

Snow brings them in…

…again and again! Snow covered ground makes it difficult (once again) for the birds to find the food on the ground. As a result, the hanging feeders and bird table have become a bit over crowded to say the least. Chatters of frantic activity increase in volume with the increase in birds arriving at them.

Just where do they all come from on wintry days like these? Ah… but they can all vanish in seconds with an eerie silence replacing the chatter. You’d think it would be easy for the Sparrowhawk to catch prey in gardens at times like this.

You’d think….





There is no background music in this video. It is silent just as it was in the garden.


Yep… this female Sparrowhawk sitting on the roof of my bird table in the wind and snow was wondering this herself yesterday. Again and again she has visited my garden over the last two days. It may of course be two or more females but this is definitely the most visits I have ever seen over a short period like this.

The photos above are screen grabs from my video for those who can’t view it. I would also like to mention that I am now adding captions below my videos for people that have difficulty with their hearing when playing videos with background music.

The caption serves as a warning sign so speakers can be turned down if necessary. Although the last few videos I have posted have been without music I still plan to add it to replace background noise and for longer videos.

Although the female Sparrowhawk was never spotted catching prey unfortunately for a male Chaffinch… a male Sparrowhawk was. The actual snatch wasn’t spotted but the feather plucking was. On the snow covered ground the small grey feathers were blowing around and sticking to it.

The reality is that this bird needs to feed on days like this too. I just hate to see it in my garden. I did record some video just to see what bird it caught. I then opened the window to chase it off. It didn't eat the bird in my garden but removed some feathers.

Reconsidering showing this short piece of video footage again in October 2011 when I am updating links. I have have decided to add it for those that are interested in birds of prey. This is the reality of nature be it in or outside our gardens.




Heavy rain followed by more snow is being forecasted for tomorrow right through until Saturday. I guess it’ll be a busy day out in the garden again. However, I had hoped to get out and do some gardening before posting views of the garden for an end of the month review. Oops… it will really be reality shots then… I think ;-)


The video and screen grab photos were taken in my garden on February 24th 2010.

12 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I enjoyed your video Shirl. The hawk is beautiful. The wind looked to be blowing quite hard too. I am glad it got something to eat. It is too bad that it got one of your favorite birds. Here I always wish they would get the house sparrows and starling since there are so many of them around. It never fails that they grab a Cardinal or other little bird that we don't see as many of.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Great video, Shirl! The wind was really blowin'! I had 2 hawk visit (at the same time!) during one of our big snowstorms. Not until yesterday did I see another. I was sitting in our family room and one stood right on the rail of the deck...my son was sitting near the window and I told him to turn around slowly...I wanted to get a photo but alas--the camera was out in the kitchen by the window there! I got up to get it and the hawk flew away. Then just today, I was entering the kitchen and saw directly out to the backyard, one standing on top of a bird feeder. I went to get the camera, and guess what? It was over in the family room! Of course, the darn thing flew away and I have no photos...but, they are hungry and know where they can get a hot meal. I have never seen one catch any bird but know it's happened; afterall, that's why the Hawks visit in the first place. It's the circle of life and nature's way. Take good care;-)

Orchids and Nature said...

Lucky you, excellent footage.

Midmarsh John said...

Well captured Shirl. A brilliant piece of video. I have had a few visits but not managed any photos so far, let alone video.

I hope your rain washes away some of the snow.

shirl said...

Hello everyone, with my PC on about to answer comments, morning cuppa in hand and curtain open…. the first female Sparrowhawk of the day has just flown through my garden! She was empty handed, I think. Hard to see when they fly so fast and low. No plans for video or photos just now though… rain is driving hard at my window.

shirl said...

Hello again, just to say if you haven’t read my update at the end of this post I have reconsidered sharing the Sparrowhawk male footage.

However, I don’t want to upset anyone by showing this embedded in my post. I should stress the Sparrowhawk does not feed on the bird. The reality is, that it is a good capture and if you would like to see it you can find it directly on Youtube here.

shirl said...

Hi Lisa, great. The quality of focus was suffering due to the snow flakes, wind and the bird moving but it did capture the moment. The female, as usual, is a lot duller than the male.

The male that captured the bird later has more colour with a deeper tan/orange colour on its front. From memory of seeing pics of your Cooper ’s Hawk on US blogs they look quite similar. I’ve uploaded a clip of it which you can see through the link above.

I’ll be honest Lisa and say that I was not comfortable videoing the male with its prey but I wondered what birds get caught in my garden. There were a lot of male chaffinches that day.

Yes, I guess that’s the way it goes that it’s the birds we don’t want to lose that get caught. When we have Blue tits nesting in our nestbox and there are eggs or chicks in it I feel quite nervous for the parents when they are out.

shirl said...

Hi Jan, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing your story :-D

Oh… I can sympathise re trying to capture photos. Most of the time the hawks don’t hang around long enough for us do they? Although in these recent visits here they seem to have stayed longer. Guess, as you say, they are hungry.

Yep… my cameras have been in other rooms too and it was that day. I knew with the snow it would need to be a video capture where I could use more zoom. I went for my camera. I came back and the bird was still there. I set up my tripod, removed the plate from another camera. It was still there. I hit record fully expecting it to move and it didn’t!

Being on the ground it was the movement that caught my eye with the male which you can see through a link above and in my posting update. There was a tree between us so I guess he didn’t get clear view of me and had no intention of moving until I opened the window.

I agree, it is nature but there are some aspects I don’t feel comfortable with. Another is the Starlings trying to get in a nestbox that has young chicks in it. I had to open the window there too.

shirl said...

Hi there David, in all honesty I wish I had started counting the number of Sparrowhawk visits we have had in the last few days.

I have tried to video footage in the past. Actually, I have a piece that I might show another time but it is shaky. I tried to follow the hawk on that occasion which wasn’t a good plan. This time, I knew I had to take a chance on keeping the camera in one position especially with the snowfall as it was. I knew focus would be an issue. It wasn’t too bad though.

I guess the good footage/capture was of the male which I have reconsidered showing. You can see that on the link above or from the update to this post.

shirl said...

Hi John, thank-you. As you know it is tricky to get footage in the snow and having any sort of focus with it. I have managed a few photos but not any of great quality really. My first ever photo was of a hawk on the ground after it had stunned itself on the window.

Just in case you’ve missed the update on my post I have reconsidered sharing the footage of the male. It is an interesting capture. There is no feeding in it but I felt it was better to just add the direct link to Youtube so you could see it.

Yep me too but unfortunately the constant rain after the snow could likely cause flooding and some areas (not us) have lost power. Our rain is only to be this morning and then it turns to snow all the way through to Saturday. That’s what the weather peeps say but we’ve had snow showers already. Hope it stays off so my daughter gets to her school exam without looking like a snowman. Two hours away is a long time with snow as you know.

Green Lane Allotments said...

We have managed great shots of sparrowhawks too in out garden.

One bird perched right by our window to pluck a sparrow. It just watched us filming and photographing it

ShySongbird said...

A magnificent bird Shirl and a great video, I love the screen grabs too. I haven't seen one in my garden lately but can usually tell when it is around as the feeders take much longer to empty.

i heard on the news last night that some homes in Scotland had lost power so I am glad to see (on your previous reply) that you are not affected.

I hope you have a good weekend and that the weather treats you kindly.