Posted by: atowhee | February 4, 2020


“This morning
the hawk
rose up…

and I said: remember
this is not something
of the red fire, this is
heaven’s fistful

of death and destruction,
and the hawk hooked
one exquisite foot
onto a last twig…” —Hawk, Mary Oliver

It is not a crime but it was a murder.  In our garden three feet from where we stood, watching small birds at our feeders.  Starlings on the suet log.  Juncos scattered about, Spotted Towhee, newly arrive trio of Myrtle Warblers, scrub-jays coming and going, Bushtits thick on the log, then vanishing… Suddenly a dark form speeds down into sight, grabs onto the hydrangea vine and climbs inside, taking perhaps 1.3 seconds.  Juncos therein escape.  Birds explode in all directions.  Juncos under the fence into the next garden. One starling up and away.  I may have heard a squeal of fear from some creature.  As my wife and I stand, watching, too slow to even react, one starling makes a fatal error.  It flies straight at us in panic and crashes into the window despite reflectors to warn it off.  We are three feet from point of impact, then point of contact. The hawk in the vine immediately rockets across fifteen feet of space, four feet above the patio and slams, talons first, into the stunned starling, then hauls it off to the dining hall, wherever that may be. The hawk had both sets of talons deep into the victim’s  body.  Sharp-shinned Hawk, a native, starling an introduced species–one winner, one loser.  The small birds are back at the feeders in less than two minutes–first to return is a Myrtle Warbler, glad to have the suet log to itself, no starlings to be seen now.  Well, that’s over…
Did this bathing starling later make a clean getaway?str-wash (2)str-wash2 (2)str-wash3 (2)YAMHILL SEWER PONDS
There was one unexpected bird at Yamhill sewer pond this morning in Yamhill town in Yamhill County.  As Nora the Dog and I were walking around we noticed action along the fence line east of the city property.  Say’s Phoebe.  Nearby was a single junco.SP-DJ (3)_LISP-LOW (2)Note all the fine trash washed up against the fence by recent flooding.sp-flies (2)Speaking of flooding…it is always instructive to check out streams after high water has receded.  Naturally the creek flowing south from Yamhill town in Yamhill County which empties into North Yamhill River is…you guessed it…Yamhill Creek.  And in that creek was this tree trunk finely de-barked by beavers  somewhere upstream from where it is now lodged against other flood debris in the creek.bvr log (3)SEWER POND GALLERY
Bald Eagle duo in trees quarter mile west of the ponds, shoveler circle, male kestrel.eagle-duo (2)shov circl (2)ysp-kes (2)

There was a pair of Bewick’s Wrens in the creekside thicket.  They were vocally fussing.  The way this species is behaving, singing, in pairs, etc. I can assume they are beginning to stake out nesting territory as they don;t migrate.  When the hapless House Wrens return from their tropical vacations they will find themselves shoved to the margins or up to higher elevations.  Bewick’s will have taken the best lowland locations already.  Here’s one of our garden wrens on the suet log this morning.  Suet crumbs, not a dainty eater:bewlog1 (2)bewlog2 (2)bewlog4 (2)bwlog3

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Feb 4, 2020. 15 species

Canada Goose  40
Northern Shoveler  110
Lesser Scaup  8
Bufflehead  15
Eurasian Collared-Dove  2
Killdeer  2
Bald Eagle  2
Red-tailed Hawk  2
American Kestrel  1
Say’s Phoebe  1
California Scrub-Jay  2
American Crow  31
Bewick’s Wren  2
European Starling  X
Dark-eyed Junco  7

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