All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Sunday, January 30, 2011

February 2011 Bird of the Month Sharp-shinned Hawk

The first time I ever saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk, I was sitting at my kitchen window watching the birds at my backyard feeders. All the sudden a dark streak swooshed across the yard and into a bush, a moment later it came out with one of my backyard patrons in it's talons and lit in one of my large trees and began to devour it.

Considered by some the scourge of backyard feeders the Sharp-shinned Hawk is not always a welcome guest. I cannot count the times people have called me, e-mailed me or just come up and ask; "how can I get rid of the hawk in my yard that keeps killing my little birds"? My answer, and I warn them that they will not like it is to "either take down their bird feeders, or you can leave them up and be happy that you have a balance in your yard". Most of the people roll their eyes and admit, "yes I know they need to eat too, I just wish they would leave my little birds alone". I had one lady that was so upset that a hawk was killing her little doves and quail that she wanted the hawks eradicated. Quail and Doves are two birds that have flourished in my neighborhood in the last few years, especially the Eurasian Collared Doves that were not even present in our area 5 years ago. These are hardly threatened species.

I got a lot of people upset a few years ago on an e-mail list serve that I used to participate in when someone asked that question. I stayed back and watched as different people responded with such solutions as "shoot it with a BB gun, or use a toy bow and arrow, these two options will sting but won't kill the bird and may discourage it from coming back". Yet another suggested "each time you see one in your yard go out with a big spoon and a pan and bang on it to drive it off". After watching these responses for a while and disturbed that people were suggesting violent solutions, I responded with my usual response, "if you don't want the hawks in your yard take down your feeders, but none of you should ever consider doing anything that would harm a bird of prey". I went on to tell them that a group of boys brought an unfortunate Sharpy to me one day and said it could not fly and wanted me to help it. I took it and looked it over and sure enough under one of it's wings there was a small hole in it's side, undoubtedly shot by a BB or pellet gun. I put the bird in a box and went in the house to call a wildlife rehabilitator. I went back out about 15 minutes later and the bird had died. BBs can kill a small hawk like a Sharp-shinned.

I told them that shooting a hawk with a BB gun is not harmless and that this bird died as a result of a BB, shot probably by someone feeding birds that wanted to get rid of the hawk. I kind of got on a soapbox and I said a few more things that probably did more harm than good because I offended many of the participants on the list serve who shot back at me with angry responses. By the way it was not a birding group list serve.

While the presence of a Sharp-shinned Hawk will quiet things down at my feeders I am always excited to see one. I would venture to guess that the majority of birds they consume in my neighborhood are House Sparrows, again hardly a threatened species.
This Sharp-shinned Hawk is a regular and welcomed visitor to my back yard

Adult Description

  • Small hawk.
  • Tail long, barred, and ends with a square tip.
  • Wings short and rounded.
  • Adults with blue-gray back and wings, reddish barring on underparts.

Female Description

Adult female somewhat browner on back and less heavily barred than male.

Immature Description

Juveniles brown on back and wings. Underparts with coarse brown streaks. Thin white eyestripe. Underwing white with dark brown barring. Eyes yellow.
Very similar in plumage to Cooper's HawkCooper's Hawk has proportionately longer tail, rounded at the tip. Cooper's Hawk has a proportionately larger head. Adult Cooper's Hawk has a dark cap that contrasts with its back. Juvenile Cooper's Hawk has less streaking underneath and more white on the tip of the tail. In flight, the larger head of the Cooper's Hawk is apparent, sticking out farther in front of the wings. For more information separating the two species click here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can't Get Enough Wood Ducks

Saturday was a Utah weather day, one minute the sun was shining and pleasant the next snowing like crazy. We had to go to Ogden and Nery wanted me to show her the park where I took the Wood Duck pictures. Spencer and Rachel live a short distance from Beus Park so they met us there along with baby Jude to go for a walk. When we first got there the sun was shining, within a few minutes it was snowing hard and by the time we finished walking the sun was out again. I only took a hundred and fifty more Wood duck Pictures.

In the last two weeks I have taken pictures of Barrow's Goldeneye and Wood Ducks for the first time. As I look at these birds I can't help but think that God sometimes created some creatures not just to adapt to or blend into their environment but just because He wanted something pretty to look at. That I really think goes for all waterfowl because they come in so many shapes sizes and colors and some with such intricate markings that they are truly works of art and right there at the top is the beautiful Wood Duck.
Here are some pictures of our walk

Nery and Steve

Spencer, Rachel and Baby Jude

Northern Flicker

Monday, January 17, 2011

Barrow's Goldeneye and More

Barrow's Goldeneye pair, Common Goldeneye Drake, American Wigeon Drake
Barrow's Goldeneye
American Wigeon
I got out for a couple of hours today, my target bird was Barrow's Goldeneye since I had not yet photographed any. I was fortunate to locate 2 pair in the same place I saw some two years ago on the Jordan River Parkway near the Oxbow in Salt Lake County.
Here is a list of the birds I saw:
Northern Shoveler
Common Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Canada Goose
Black-capped Chickadee
House Sparrow
American Goldfinch
American Coot

I also stopped by Decker Lake and saw
California Gulls
Ring-billed Gulls
Green-winged Teal
Common Merganser
Canada Goose

Here are some more pictures of todays outing
Northern Shoveler Drake


Pair of Barrow's Goldeneye and a Pair of Common Goldeneye
Canada Geese
Common Merganser Drake

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Northern Pintail drakes and 2 Mallards pairs
When I first started keeping my birding life list I started with Waterfowl. Waterfowl for me are the easiest of birds to identify. They are large birds, they come in many varieties and their field marks are easy to identify. That of course goes for the Drakes, female ducks are a bit more difficult. I have listed pictures of most of the ducks that visit Farmington Bay and I have tried to show pictures with both male Drake and female Duck of each species.
Mallard Drake and Duck

Northern Pintail Drake and Duck
Blue-winged Teal Drake and Duck
Bufflehead this is typical during courtship 6 Drakes courting one Duck
Canvasback Drake
Cinnamon Teal Drake and Duck
Gadwall courtship flight two Drakes courting one Duck
Common Goldeneye Drake
Common Goldeneye Duck
Waterfowl remain some of my favorite birds and one of the reasons I spend so much time at Farmington Bay. God was really showing his artistic side when he created waterfowl.
Green-winged Teal Drake
Hooded Merganser

Redhead two Drakes and on Duck
Ring-necked Duck and a hen Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck drake

Canvasback eight Drakes three Ducks

Lesser Scaup drake
Lesser Scaup Duck

Northern Shoveler courtship flight three Drakes and one Duck
American Wigeon two pair and two pair of Northern Pintails in the back
Wood Ducks Drake and Duck
Canada Goose males and females look alike
Tundra Swan males and females look alike
Graylag Goose (Europe)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chukars, Pheasants and more

Nery and I went exploring today, I have been wanting to go to North West Utah for a long time. A couple of days ago some one on the Utah Bird Net report some great birds in Howell Utah so I decided today was the day to finally take a trip North. We didn't have quite the great bird day that he did but it was good just the same.

Birds seen:
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Northern Harrier
Prairie Falcon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Horned Larks everywhere
Meadow larks
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow
European Starling
Ring-necked Pheasant at least 50
Chukar a group of at least 20

Here are a few pictures of our trip

Hen Ring-necked Pheasant

Male Ring-necked Pheasant

These Mallards were laying in the road and too cold to even move as we drove by
We saw a lot of Deer

Rocket display at ATK
Yours Truly