Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Normally I wouldn't bother to post a photo that is this poor quality, but it was 6:30 this the evening in failing light and I was shooting through glass and window screens. I heard a thump out on our second story deck where the bird feeders hang and the hawk was sitting on the deck railing. I know I should have adjusted the settings, but hawks don't wait. And in a wingbeat he grabbed a talon full of little bloody bird and was gone.  


Mimbres Man said...

Sharp-shinned hawk story #1:
Believe it or not, I caught one of these once. I was riding my bike and saw this small hawk hopping on the sidewalk with a broken wing. I stopped, chased it into a yard, cornered it, used my shirt to grab it (it was mean little bastard!). I carefully opened my shirt to inspect it and it instantly grabbed my finger with its little razor sharp talons! Cut my finger the little jerk! I finally pried off the talon off my finger (painful). I carefully put the bird and shirt in my handlebar bag and rode home. I called a local falconer but he wasn't interested in rehabbing a bird, so he referred me to the NM Game and Fish. The next day, an officer came by and got the bird and reprimanded me for getting it. He said he could fine me $100K or some outrageous sum, just for touching the bird, but he saw that I was an ignorant college kid with good intentions and said he'd overlook that detail. I asked what was going to happen to the bird, he told me he was taking it to Deming to a bird rehab specialist.

Mimbres Man said...

Sharp-shinned hawk story #2: (Not too long after episode #1...)

The most elegant bird flight I've ever seen was a sharp-shinned hawk.

I was in the passenger seat of my mom's car and we were heading down Broadway St. in Silver City. This street is a long downhill. On a utility pole at one of the intersections, sat a sharp-shinned hawk.

Just as we were driving by, a pigeon flew past the pole, low. The hawk sprung off its perch with one wing beat, used gravity to get airspeed and make an attack run on the pigeon. The pigeon avoided the hawk, so the hawk immediately pulled up to the vertical, bled off his airspeed to zero, kicked his tail over and executed a perfect "hammerhead", where he pushed it back downhill towards his perch with just enough airspeed to land back perfectly on the utility pole where it started just a couple of seconds before.

I was awestruck! I let out a big WOW in the car, and tried to explain what I had just witnessed to my mom.

That bird used only the energy of a little hop and one wing beat, the rest was gravity and expert flying.

Because that maneuver, I have great respect for those little hawks.

Anonymous said...

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