Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parakeets Are Desirable Prey For Hawks and Falcons

If the Internet sources can be trusted, there are 16 varieties of hawk and 37 different species of falcon. This could make it difficult to identify the small raptor that tried to get into my kitchen this morning.

If only the flash hadn't automatically
discharged! Reflection hides hawk.
Our bump-out with birds inside.
We have a bump-out nook off the kitchen with a plant shelf. Instead of plants, I have four large cages sitting on the shelf with a pair of Bourkes in each, plus one baby recently out of the nest. There are windows on three sides of the shelf. Early this morning, all nine birds went crazy.

A small hawk was flying very close to each of the windows and peering inside at the birds. A nice snack for him! When he couldn’t reach them, he lit on a deck post right outside their window and continued to watch the birds. They did not like it!

Juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Photo by Kevin T. Karlson

I grabbed a camera, and headed for a window, fixed the bird in the center of the viewfinder and clicked. The flash went off automatically. Drat! He flew away, and the flash’s reflection in the window destroyed any hope of getting a picture of him.

Several hours later, he flew past again, but didn’t land or stay long enough for me to retrieve the camera. However, it was another opportunity to study him and that’s when I decided he most resembled a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Wish I had a picture specifically of him, but he looked just like many of their photos on the internet, some provided here. Since he was small, I believe he was a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk. He was very mottled brown, not grey.

There are about 50 species of falcons and hawks in the genus Accipiter. Females are naturally larger and weigh more than males. The smallest falcon is only 9-11 inches long and weighs about 4 ounces. The largest weighs about 2 or 3 lbs. and is 19-24 inches long. A falcon’s lifespan can be as long as 17 years. Large hawks live longer as size is relative to lifespan. Red-tailed hawks have lived 29 years in captivity, although in the wild their average lifespan is only 12 years.

 provided the following information:

Juvenile Birds of Prey
Cooper's Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Juvenile Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks have yellow eyes, dark vertical stripes on their breasts, and variable brown backs and heads with some white spots.

Heavy, bold, reddish streaks on chest and belly.

Usually has a pale stripe above the eye. Finer streaks mostly on upper breast; lower belly mostly white. Often reddish color on side of head and nape.
Photos by David Smith, Grand Junction, Colorado

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