Winter: Deadly Serious

You have heard about the blizzard in the northeast by now and how the roads, transit systems, airports and emergency service vehicles are mostly still stranded. Ken and I have spent the better part of today digging ourselves out with a weak-willed snow blower and great determination. MUCH gratitude goes to a neighbor who drilled through the icy mountain left by the snowplows that everyone wants to see working if only they would not plug the driveway.   I shoveled the snow off the deck as quickly as possible, both to refill the bird feeders and to relieve the added weight from the structure. As anyone who shovels snow will advise, it’s best to ladle it off while the stuff is new and soft; otherwise, it ices up and makes it impossible to remove.

When almost done, I felt an odd aura around, so paused to glance at the patch of woods behind the house. Six crows crouched in the tall oaks. Below them, an immature Cooper’s Hawk was eying me and the bird feeders. Cooper’s Hawks are known raiders of small birds at house feeders but my noisy presence kept the chickadees, titmice, Carolina Wrens and starlings away. Fifteen minutes later, the hawk dipped, shot toward the snow-laden forsythia shrubs bordering the woods and flushed a White-throated Sparrow, who made the deadly mistake of trying to escape over open ground. The hawk lofted back to its perch and fed. Frantically.

Two hours later, I was setting the table for dinner and glanced out the door to the cleared deck. Two squirrels were jiggling around in the hemlocks shading the south side. They sprang from branch to branch and back to the deck rail while staring at one spot and vibrating their tails as if shaking a naughty finger at someone.
That someone was the immature Cooper’s Hawk. It had flown into the hemlocks to escape the fierce winds while it digested its sparrow supper.

The two squirrels were frantic and alternated bouncing back and forth through the waving hemlock branches while the hawk clung to its perch, only once lunging at one when it teased too close.

These photos were taken at an angle, through a glass door and a screen which may have shielded the hawk’s sight from me. More likely, it was too exhausted to fly off.

The squirrels, undeterred but tiring, kept jumping into the branches at the hawk, staring and pointing but this was stealing valuable energy from them as well, so finally, like hungry football fans, they grabbed some peanuts left on the deck earlier for the jays, and resumed their vigil.


No kidding around. Winter survival is deadly, deadly serious.

Make good decisions. Be safe.

This entry was posted in Cooper's Hawk, deck, snow, winter. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Winter: Deadly Serious

  1. dlg says:

    What a moment you've captured in these photos! Kudos to you for making an adventure out of the blizzard…if only the TV news had focused on scenes like yours instead!!

  2. You guys really got dumped on in this snowstorm. I'm glad that you're safe and did all the shoveling before the white stuff turns to concrete. We've got a red tailed hawk living in the trees back near the barn. They are beautiful but my heart goes out to the little creatures that end up as dinner. Great photos!

  3. A very interesting sequence of pictures. It's survival of the fittest out there when the snow flies like it did these past few days. We got hit hard too. Stay warm and enjoy the rest of your time off.

  4. Some amazing shoots. I always feel for the critters who must figure out how to survive through Mother Nature's wrath.

  5. Just stopping by to wish you and your family a healthy Happy New Year with great things to come for you in 2011.

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