Saturday, December 11, 2010

Death in the Blizzard

 In the midst of the near white-out blizzard of 17+ inches of snow today this Dark-eyed Junco was trying to eat to stay alive at my feeders at 1:30 PM.

 Not the best conditions for photography, but try it anyway.

Suddenly the Junco disappeared from my camera viewfinder in a blur.  I looked up to see where it had flown to and it was gone.  All the other birds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Goldfinches, were all acting normal.

But then I saw the Sharp Shinned Hawk, about 30 feet away, under the lilac bush, with the Junco.  It happenned so fast and quietly none of the other birds noticed.  The Blue Jay was sitting calmly 5 feet over the small hawk as it quickly and meticulously ate every nutritious morsel of the Junco.

That is the two wing bones connected to the back of the Junco.  Every shred of muscle was picked off.  These bones and some feathers were all that was left after 5 minutes.  Then the little hawk flew over to the base of the Lilac bush, shook the snow off of itself, then up to a branch, and then it was gone.

Death is fast and unexpected for Juncos, but keeps hawks alive. And keeps me constantly at the camera.

This was very cool to watch and photograph, even if visibility was so poor because of the blowing snow and bushes. Not the best pictures, but an experience I feel privileged to have been able to observe.

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