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Yesterday, the usual bustle of activity at our bird feeders suddenly fell silent. The cause was an unexpected visitor.


Not the greatest pic, but I took it with an iPhone through the kitchen window…

It is a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk, the smallest North American hawk. They like oak and conifer forests, so perhaps this one has been living in the park near our house. According to Wikipedia, these hawks favor small songbirds as prey and often target backyard bird feeders. A couple of months ago, one took a small bird from under my nose as I was standing at the kitchen window. It was over in an instant. A flash of wings, a loud thump against the window, a few feathers floating on the breeze.


A juvenile accipiter striatus (sharp shinned hawk) in Florida. Source: Wikipedia.

Normally, the feeders are crowded with cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches and other familiar suburban songbirds of the US. They grab a seed, then fly to the nearby trees to crack it open. On the ground about them, chipmunks and the local black squirrels glean the dropped sunflower and safflower seeds. But with the visit of the young hawk, an eerie silence fell, and everyone kept out of sight. He perched on the pole for a long time, comfortably surveying the yard, then flew off. No doubt he’ll be back.