There was a large, slow-gliding shadow over the bird feeder. As I looked out my kitchen window, I saw one motionless goldfinch on the feeder hoping not to be spotted. I was glad to not hear a low thud against the window pane. Sometimes when birds of prey surprise a flock of birds at the birdfeeder, the potential meals scatter and some zoom right into the kitchen window and get knocked out, leaving behind a tuft of feathers clinging to the glass.
I was lucky to see the hawk perched on a white oak branch not too far away from the birdfeeder. I watched it for a few seconds and rushed to get my camera. I had a feeling this ragged raptor was going to hang out for just a few fleeting moments. When I hurried back to the window, I noticed a family of crows sprayed out on different branches in nearby trees. The crows were cawing loudly and making sure all animals knew this predator was in the area. I snapped a few pictures of the grumpy hawk, and worried about identification later.
Everybody loves an underdog. And these ordinary crows were no match for the strength and agility of a raptor. Working as a group to harass the hawk gave them a boldness that they would not have as individuals. This is called mobbing behavior. Crows use this to teach their young what a predator looks like and to drive a predator away from a nest site.
Without warning, the hawk flew off realizing that it would find no rest in my backyard. (see picture)
A friend of mine told me it was a Red Shouldered Hawk. That was news to me because the last time I tried to identify a hawk in the back yard I had difficulty deciding if it was a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. If you see a hawk and want to identify it, try the link below. This link will bring you to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website which specializes in helping you figure out which bird is what. Or you can just email a friend.