Monday, July 20, 2015

If That Mockingbird Don't Sing ...

... it would be because of this guy.

A few evenings ago, a family (?) of six Cooper's Hawks came sailing through the neighborhood. Amazing sight to see, loud and plaintive sound to hear. The juveniles obviously didn't want Mom and Pop to leave them all on their own, screeching their pleas to the world.

You can hear a recording of their calls here: Just scroll down the page to "Begging Calls of Chicks."

At least one of the young birds has been hanging around, doing a low fly-by each day, perching on the street-light out front or in the neighbor's sequoia trees.

In June of 1997, we woke to our first morning in this house, hearing the beautiful sound of singing birds, so different from the previous home, where the predominant morning noise was the traffic from Highway 99, one of the main arteries of traffic running north-south in Central California.

Since Young Cooper's Hawk moved into the area, we hear NO birds singing. No crows, no jays, no finches, no sparrows ... because what Cooper's Hawks eat is other birds. How awful, you might think, and indeed, some birding sites on the web advise people to take down their bird feeders until a hawk moves on to a different locale.

We're ambivalent about this. It's true that we miss the song of house finches and the company of scrub jays on the back patio, but none of us misses that blasted mockingbird who used to proclaim himself Ruler of the Block incessantly all day long, and in the middle of the night, too.

The other possible benefit of the hawk is that the jays and mockingbirds aren't gobbling up our ripening grapes for the first summer in a long, long time.

Eventually, the hawk will fly off to the river a few blocks away and hunt more fruitfully in the canopy of the trees. In the meantime, silence is golden.

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