Sunday, September 2, 2012 A Suite of Raptors

What a week for raptors! This morning I stepped outside into another raptor drama. The abundant STELLER'S JAYS were making a huge racket, sending out the alarm. An enormous GOSHAWK flushed out of the trees, then perched on a fence, providing excellent photo ops before stroking away. A tiny MERLIN dive-bombed it, adding its 2¢ to the Goshawk's exit. As for the photos, I only had my point-and-shoot, so there aren't any worth posting.

A short time later, an adult BALD EAGLE blasted through from the bay to the mountains, unconcerned about trifling jays and magpies, or other lesser raptors.

After a whole year of not seeing one, I finally spotted a PEREGRINE on August 31st. Its powerful, sickle-shaped wings sliced through the air as it stroked across the sky, flying far and fast.

Yesterday, it was the juvenile SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS' turn to chase each other around the 'hood and practice pouncing on STELLER'S JAYS. The jays and magpies seemed like willing coaches, giving tips on how to improve their technique and style. But I would not want to be the target of a stealthy winged tiger with piercing yellow eyes, peering through the cottonwood leaves, looking for lunch. 

One handsome hawk preened and posed on a fence post, enjoying a few moments of relaxation. Suddenly, it erupted into flight and almost pinned a too-cocky STELLER'S JAY that narrowly escaped. A short time later, both hawks perched about 50' apart on the cable line, warily watching each other and me before dashing off on yet another wild chase.

I don't know how long a hawk can go without food, but these two must be very hungry. Each swoop and a miss improve their skills; I hope they can survive long enough to figure it out.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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