Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Friend or Foe

We spend a lot of time watching and seeing to the wild birds the wife and I. We make sure there is always food out, especially this time of the year for winter can be cruel.. Something happened this morning that kind of made me think a little. Not that this is the first time I have had this cross my mind, on the contrary; all the same even knowing it is only natures way, I still felt violated for the birds. Late last summer we lost a Dove to a bird of prey.

Last winter we had a Northern Goshawk, swoop in and grab an unsuspecting Junco. That was not a good day, for he stood guard over his kill a couple of hours before eventually going down and making his meal from the spoils. Meanwhile all the other birds were as frozen in time, hiding in the hedges. A safe haven where the hawk couldn’t quite reach them, but gone nevertheless until the hawk was finished and departed This hawk was the male and all the time the female hawk sat in a nearby tree watching, waiting, she was twice the size of the other bird, absolutely huge. This incident brought to mind the small mystery from last summer that we hadn't had an answer for till now. The case of the missing dove. That was conspicuous then because now we only had five instead of six. Oh the lonesme times that dove went through. Later he adopted some goldfinches and made himself at home.

The winter this year has been a little less than weird, with the first snow in this area not arriving until part way into January. I think that would explain why the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Nuthatches and even the Woodpeckers have not been seen as prominently as they usually are.

This morning the weather was pretty cold at -24c wind-chill, everywhere snow covered but frozen hard. The Sun showed his face and our assortment of birds were frolicking and singing in the hedge as always. Suddenly without warning to me at least, this Northern Goshawk came swooping in very low, about fence high trying to snatch up the smaller finches and chickadee’s. I just happened to be looking out the window at the time bird watching.

They must have sensed him, because they went right down into that hedge so fast, before you could blink where it is safer. The hawk, angry I would reckon at missing out, made a few more runs and swoops up and down the area.

Once, even trying to trick the birds into thinking he had gone away by flying up the road. Then next minute, swooping in right close and very low again in a final attempt, trying to get into the hedge but he‘s too big. This time he went away empty-handed; of course we won’t see the birds out there now for a few days as they will stay out of sight for awhile.

So at times I wonder if we are doing the birds any favors by feeding them the way we do, enticing them to stay. We’ve been doing this now for two or three years, the birds I’m sure know we will provide for them. Or is it better just to let them go on their way at seasons end and wait until the next year. Such a pity really, for they give such enjoyment to us year round.

This morning it is still bitter cold out there and the sun is shining, no sign though of a single bird. And who can blame them? Survival of the smartest I call it.

Well! What can I say, just to prove me wrong a number of the birds just showed up, very carefully and close to cover of course but all the same. On parade we have the house sparrows, goldfinches, chickadees and even the woodpecker! So much for all I know! Nature knows best. Where’s my tea/ C’ya

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