Monday, May 10, 2010

Hawk eats squirrel, baby bird is in trouble, and a snake pile

House finch chick, Cutler Park, Needham, MA

I visited Cutler Park today to try to census Baltimore orioles. Only two were singing enough to record but I counted six males and one female around the lake. Only one wood thrush was singing (hopefully that will change soon). Overall the level of bird song was low; it might have been the time of day or the cool weather or...

the Cooper's hawk.

What a nasty creature. In an impressive show of military might, the red-winged blackbirds and the grackles had driven it into the woods. There it perched, until it spotted a squirrel's nest. I watched, awestruck, as it ripped the roof off the nest and flew off, young squirrel in talons. Then it perched and ate it.

I've embedded my photos of the event below (no photos of the actual squirrel catch).

There is a well-established group of house finches near an office building right off the trail; you can usually hear them singing as you pass. Today, more commotion than usual. I quickly saw the reason. A youngster that had fallen from its nest (probably due to the high winds). Not helpless, but not ready to fly either.

Its poor parents were in an awful state.

It hopped up the trunk of a small tree (hopping on its parent, who was in the way--I like to think the parent was offering its back for a ride). I think it is plausible it might find a safe place above.

Good thing, because today's visible predators included...
a northern water snake.

Actually two northern water snakes.

Three northern water snakes?

My mistake. Four northern water snakes. One female (the big one) and three males. Hmm. I wonder what they are up to in the poison ivy...

Actually, I think I know.

A trifecta of natural awfulness (or awesomeness, depending on your perspective).

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