Beware of the Bullet Hawk, Coming soon to a bird feeder near you!
Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:00 pm
Sharp-shinned or Bullet Hawk
Last Friday, Anthony Gray and myself sat outback next to the trees, we were watching the Eurasian Collared Doves feeding up under the feeders close to the house when all of a sudden, they scattered like they were shot out of a cannon. The Mourning Doves also took flight, but at a slightly more relaxed pace. Within a few seconds we learned the reason for the exodus.
A Coopers Hawk came busting on the scene, acting as if she hadn't eaten in at least a week. Everything on down to the size of the Carolina Chickadee had already taken cover in the thickness of the still green leaves on the trees. After the frost and freeze the other night, the leaves will be departing very soon and then there will be less cover for my little friends to hide in.
One might ask how to determine a female from a male Coopers. After watching them for as many years as I have, it almost becomes second nature to know the difference. The females in all birds of prey are larger than their male counterparts. A Coopers Hawk is a member of the Accipiter family which includes the Sharp-shinned Hawk and the Goshawk, who lives a little further north from here. I don't want to confuse you, so a female Sharp-shined might be as large as a male Coopers. The Sharp-shinned's tail feathers will be squared at the tips where a Coopers tail feathers will be rounded.
When you start a bird feeding station, it doesn't take long for some predator to look at it as a fast food source, whether it is some neighbors house cat or some bird of prey. Cats are ambush critters and try to sneak up on its wild food. Keep your feeding area devoid of such places and that will help them, the birds to survive.
Hawks are another matter and it would help if there was small tangles of brush close by so they can hide in them. Regular songbirds have their eyes on one side of their head and of course the other side, where as a hawk has their eyes facing forward, like a human. This gives them binocular vision where they can spot their prey from a greater distance. I have watched them come in at full throttle, trying to surprise an unsuspecting bird before it can take cover.
This past Friday, Teresa Botts had me do another "Bird Talk" program at the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center, where we talked about the different types of birds at our feeders for the winter months. There were thirtyfive members who showed up to maybe learn a few more tidbits of information when it comes to our feathered friends at the feeders. I enjoy friends asking questions as we go along, instead of waiting to the end. I have another program coming up this Monday at Elmcroft Assisted Living on West Main Street. I hope it goes as well as the one this past Friday.
One of my good friends, William Armstrong was asking about a grayish looking bird with white wing patches that would lift its wings up and down. After my program, I located a picture of a Mocking bird that was wing flashing. William exclaimed, "That's it." I had no idea that so many of my friends enjoyed the birds, almost as much as I do.
I can't wait till January, when we will do an overnite trip to Reelfoot Lake to watch for Bald Eagles. Patti Watts, director of the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center, told me that the trip was already booked up full with several other people on a waiting list.
I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, email@example.com