Our son Brad sent a few jpegs this past week of birds visiting his backyard in Omaha. The Cooper’s Hawk feeding near his patio window reminded me of several encounters with the hawks here at home in Alliance. In the last month, my wife Marlene and I were surprised to see a stream of feathers flying into our backyard from a tall pine tree near our patio door. The feathers, carried by a slight south-east breeze were covering the ground and falling like snow. Looking closer, we saw a Cooper’s Hawk purposefully cleaning his catch, one of the large, mostly white to buff-colored Eurasian Collared-Doves that have steadily increased their populations here in western Nebraska. An earlier encounter with another Cooper’s Hawk was even more dramatic, the hawk was twisting and turning in flight after a smaller bird when both passed within inches of Marlene standing on our deck. The hawk broke off its pursuit only to crash into the nearby garage roof at high speed. I don’t know how the bird chased by the hawk avoided the same fate.
Another of Brad’s jpegs was one of the Dark-eyed Juncos, even with a good bird book in hand, and time to look carefully at the bird or its photo magnified on the computer screen, I try to remain very in-exact on bird identification, especially the hawks, usually captioning my bird images going into the NEBRASKAland before my retirement with a note to “Let Jon Farrar” identify, p-l-e-a-s-e!”
But Brad’s jpegs are also a reminder that where-ever we live, sometimes the wild comes to us. Within several blocks of his Omaha residence, he and his wife Linda can hike riparian woodlands near a small pond, the hiking trail is open to the public. On their hikes with grandson Carter and granddaughter Gillian they have seen and photographed a variety of waterfowl, blue herons and numerous songbirds, even apartment dwellers without a backyard are able to visit the wild close to home.
When I replied by email that the small bird was a Dark-eyed Junco, Brad responded later that he hoped it wasn’t the Cooper’s Hawk’s meal. “They eat what they can catch” was my reply.