This area has been home to a pair of broad-winged hawks for a few years. This is a handsome bird with a distinctive banded tail and an appetite for ...well, lesser birds. I am often alerted to the presence of a hawk by a raucous band of vigilantes--most often blue jays or crows-- who pursue the hawk, all the while sounding the alert. It can be deafening. Sometimes I go outside and clap my hands loudly; usually the hawk takes off, with the crowd of alarmists in hot pursuit.
From time to time I will find a heap of feathers--either the hawks or the feral cats have made a kill, I infer. Occasionally, though, I see a hawk in action. A fleeing bird will make noisy contact with a sliding door, and I'll see the disappointed hawk standing on the patio with empty talons. Or I may notice snowflakes wafting down...and suddenly realize, No, it's not snowing; those are downy feathers plucked out by a hawk up in the branches of the live oak.
Last week I noticed something sizable on the stones under the live oak. Rabbit? No-- a hawk with its fresh kill!
A blackbird is lying on the stones. I'm sorry this photo is not clearer-- I was shooting through the glass. Had I opened the door, the hawk would have flown, gripping his prey in the talons of one foot.
The hawk proceeded to pluck feathers from the blackbird until able to begin pulling meat from the carcass. I was able to watch the hawk for more than an hour. It's not that there is so much meat there, but it's a lengthy process.
Eventually the hawk folded the remains in one clawed foot and flew off, leaving a disorderly heap of shining black feathers and fluffy down.
You know, I've never seen a hawk victimizing a crow.
Maybe it's true that NObody likes eating crow....