Monday, Chris and I witnessed a murder. A quick flash past the bird window caught my eye and I watched as a large bird landed on the ground near our bird feeding area. It was an immature male Cooper's hawk, and it had caught something. Chris and I ran to get the binoculars, hoping it wasn't our Carolina Wren, the Brown Creeper who entertained us at lunch, or one of three female Purple Finches that have been visiting the feeders lately.
We snuck up to the window, hoping not to spook the murder suspect and catch him in the act. Soon he took off, but swung back around, prey in his talons, and landed on one of the fence posts that surround our bird feeding area. Handfuls of feathers floated through the air as he methodically stripped his carcass for easy access to the juicy meal. We soon made an ID of the victim he had plucked from the feeders-a House Sparrow. As he fed, he periodically looked around to make sure another animal did not sneak up on him and steal his prize. On two occasions he shifted to an adjacent post with his prey, possibly to get a better grip.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind the Cooper's hawk snacking on our birds. My descriptions are all tongue-in-cheek. I understand that everything in nature has its place and am quite fascinated with raptors. So, we continued to watch the scene for a few minutes, until something spooked Mr. Hawk and off he went to the woods. Another lesson in the circle of life.