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View Diary: Dawn Chorus: Stealthy Stalkers (116 comments)

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  •  Oh, geez... yeah, the raptors funnel down the (4+ / 0-)

    coast and bunch up toward the southern part of Marin before they cross the gate.  It sounds like you're in Mill Valley or Sausalito, so... yeah, you're getting a lot of hawks through there.

    We will be doing a few more Kossack birding trips, so keep your eyes peeled for those.  No need to be a serious birder - we've had non-birders join us, too, and always manage to have some fun.  And it's a good way to learn from one another.

    •  Raptors gathering and passing through (4+ / 0-)

      Wow.  I didn't know this.  I must not be the only one who's having their backyard feeders set up as death traps right now, in this area.  Next year I'll be ready for it and take the feeders down in early September.

      I'd like to come along on a Kossack birding trip.   :)

      Thanks for the input.  It's been very helpful.

      •  As was mentioned above, moving the feeders can (4+ / 0-)

        help a lot.  If there is cover nearby that birds can escape to quickly, that will help a lot.  Feeders out in the wide open = a long, dangerous flight to safety.  (Also, keep windows in mind when placing feeders - birds and the hawks chasing them often fly into windows during the frantic moments of a chase, which can injure or kill them.)

        We have friends in Sausalito just below Wolfback Ridge who keep their feeders up through migration without too much carnage, and other friends in Mill Valley who do the same (and the park's boundary is at the end of their back yard).  At most, you probably just need to leave the feeders empty for a few days at a time during the peak of migration.  Sounds like you just had a run of bad luck this year.

        •  Just came from consulting with (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Polly Syllabic, burnt out, lineatus

          the bird experts at the wildbirds, unlimited up in Novato.  Showed 'em my photos of the predator.  They were all in agreement that it was a juvenile Cooper.  Maybe only born this past May or so.

          Awwwww...it's a baby killer.   Kills babies and is a baby.  

          The bird guys said only about 50% of fledged and juvie raptors live through the first year.   It depends on their hunting skills.  Catching easy prey at my feeders doesn't guarantee this kiddo will be able to do it in the wild.

          So now what?  Do I keep providing delicious prey for this juvenile Cooper, or do I protect my feeder flock?  It's a dilemma.   The Coop is very beautiful.  And just trying to survive.  

          Thanks for the further input.   Apparently my only choice is to keep the feeders down for awhile.   I'll miss 'em!  :)

          •  Hi SP, I talked to you about this before but I'll (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sockpuppet, Polly Syllabic, lineatus

            put my two cents worth in again anyways. If that hawk was here I'd sit back and let nature take it's course.
            As a matter of fact, I do have one here that takes birds off my feeders now and then, not as often as yours seems to be doing but I see it at least once a week and just a few days ago I watched it take down a Downy and even got a few pics of it while it ate it's meal.  I don't begrudge him for it at all. It may sound morbid or cruel but I'm delighted to get to witness this natural event.  I understand that you feel some responsibility for the birds you've attracted to your feeders but as I said awhile back when you first started having the trouble, that hawk needs to eat, if he doesn't find a meal at your house he's going to find it some place else, or die. Hawks have been preying on songbirds since dinosaurs first grew feathers. It's natures way and it works. What others told you about the importance of cover is true. You need something nearby for them to escape to, make the hawk work for his supper. I drove some fence posts in the ground near my feeders and cut down some small cedars that needed thinning anyway and "planted" them by tying them to the fence posts. It works well and the feeder birds seem to like sitting in them whether the hawk is around or not. If you don't have access to some scrub trees , you can grab some discarded Chistmas trees in a few weeks and they would work great. Anyways, just a few thoughts, hope it works out for ya.

            Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

            by burnt out on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 07:34:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the comment. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              burnt out, Polly Syllabic, lineatus

              I did take to heart what you said before about all this.  So I left the feeders up, with some adjustments to make it a bit more difficult for the Cooper/s to be able to pick the birds off the feeders.

              The staff at the WildBirds Unlimited store looked at all the photos of my backyard and agreed that it seemed I had ideal foliage-cover conditions for the bird feeders.  

              This is the area where the most recent photo of the Cooper feeding was taken...on the ground right in the center of this wisteria-thicket area:

              Photobucket

              I had located the finch feeders and a platform feeder under this arbor area.   The area above the feeders is only about a foot or two away and very dense.  The birds loved to disappear up into it.   The towhees lived in this thicket for years.  

              This is a part of the backyard.  You can see all the cover I have here.   Unfortunately, it also provides good cover for the predators, too.  (Thank goodness, no felines, yet.)

              Photobucket

              This is where I have some of the finch and seed feeders now, hidden under these bonsai tables and next to this ivy hedge:

              Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

              The sparrows and some of the finches have found the feeders under there.   They also like being so close to the thick ivy cover.  

              Beyond this effort, I don't know what to do to help the little ones have a fighting chance against predators.   You mentioned seeing a hawk take a downy in your yard.   That would just be too hard for me to take.   Although only if I was responsible for the downy coming to a feeder I set out for it.   If a predator bird gets a prey bird while they're just doing their own natural thing, well, that's just Nature.

              I like your suggestion about the Christmas trees.   That seems like a good solution, too.  

              Thanks for your thoughtful commentary on my avian dilemma.  :)

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