After writing Part I last week, I received a few more interesting photos and suggestions regarding sightings that have occurred during the week that will add a new twist to the results of the survey. Upon arriving home Sunday morning from church, my neighbor Nancy Gee, who has contributed photos in the past, saw me and was quick to come across the street with another great contribution to the current feeder watch topic, in addition to the birds already being recorded at feeders she presented some excellent photographs of different visitors to feeders in the way of a bird that enjoys visiting feeder sites for other reasons than the offerings of seed, water, and suet. This bird is a hawk, and a member of the Accipiter family by the name of Sharp-shinned Hawk. The Sharp-shinned is the smallest local member of a group of hawks known as accipiters. The other locally found members of this family are the Coopers Hawk and Northern Goshawk.
The interesting fact about this family of birds is that they primarily prey upon other members of the bird family. This is unlike the common Red Tailed hawk many of us are familiar with which seems to prefer small mammals such as squirrels, field mice and other similar animals. Starting the discussion of the Accipiters with the Sharp-shinned, this little raptor is about the size of large robin and very rapid in flight, often swooping in on an unsuspecting prey such as a sparrow or robin. The Sharpie, as it is often called, is an interesting bird to observe, particularly in its hunting habit which has given it a nickname of "bushwhacker" by virtue of its method of making short flights just above the ground and surprising its victim with a sudden burst of speed. This bird is observed all year in our county, as is the Coopers Hawk which is a crow sized bird, similar in behavior to the Sharp-shinned. The Northern Goshawk, the largest of this threesome, is a sporadic visitor to our county, being observed from mid-December to mid-February, and can be found fairly regularly around the county from the first of March to about the end of July. The Goshawk and the common Red-tailed Hawk are about the same size if you are looking for a size comparison.
A letter was received from Richard Shiel of Fredonia who contributed a nice list of birds consisting of 16 American Goldfinches, 20 Dark-eyed Juncos, a flock of about 30 Pine Siskins (which were also heard here on Elm St. in Fredonia), along with a nice list of some of the more expected birds to be observed at this time of year. His description of a hawk behavior near the feeder area was excellent in the identification of an Accipiter, probably the Sharp-shinned. He also reported the following: Downy Woodpeckers, both species of Nuthatches, and a Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpecker along with English Sparrows and Song Sparrows.
A Sharp-Shinned Hawk rests on a feeder. Pictured below: Clockwise from the left,
I am still accepting photos and article ideas on the feeder watch for next weeks article. You may submit them by U.S mail to me at 38 Elm St. Fredonia N.Y. 14063 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally I would like to remind you that of the three Nature organizations of Chautauqua County, the Lake Erie Bird Club meets the third Monday of the month from September through April at the Loguidice BOCES center in Fredonia. The Peterson Ornithological Club meets the last Wednesday of the month at the Peterson Institute in Jamestown, and the Jamestown Audubon Society is open all year long at the Burgeson sanctuary site in the town of Kiantone. All are welcome to these meetings.