Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened While Feeding the Birds

1. COHA-kab Cooper’s Hawk in my yard (from my archives)

It’s a gray and steamy morning here today after a late night rain storm. The gray skies lured me into sleeping a bit late, but I finally got up around seven. After dressing I go downstairs and start opening blinds as I do every morning to let in the daylight. After a full day of birding yesterday I can see some of my feeders are empty. I step out into the steam bath that awaits me outside my door and trot around filling nyjar seed feeders. Then I realize it has been three days since I changed nectar in the hummingbird feeders, so I go out the front door and grab the feeder hanging from the front mesquite tree and bring it inside. Once I have washed and refilled it I take it back out to hang under the feathery green canopy provided by it and my neighbor’s mesquite trees. The birds seem to love these trees and they seek shelter in the shady boughs.

Next I open the slider to the back patio where I have two feeders hanging from the columns of the covered patio. As I walk towards the feeders I feel my ankle breaking through the gossamer threads of last night’s spider web building. I only hope they are not black widows as I grab the first feeder. It is as I am walking back towards the door that I hear a funny squawking sound coming from the front yard. It is not a bird sound that I am familiar with, and I don’t have my binoculars with me, but still I walk towards the backyard gate to peer between my house and my neighbor’s at the twin mesquite trees out front. From this angle I cannot see all of the trees, but I can see enough.

2. hummingbird feeder-kab

I start to scan the leafy branches searching for the maker of the sound. The noise is frantic and incessant as I spot a rufous barred belly with a gray upper body and white fluffy undertail coverts. It doesn’t take my long to recognize the Cooper’s Hawk standing on a branch, but is he the one making the sound? I have heard Cooper’s Hawks “cuk, cuk, cukking” before but this doesn’t sound like that. It’s more like the cross between a squawk and a quack. Yet, it is definitely a bird. As I stand there near the gate watching it suddenly the bird launches off the branch and swoops between the houses flying low and I realize it is coming directly towards me. Then, as the hawk is swooping about 2 feet above my head I look to see a gray and white bird dart out of the foliage in hot pursuit! It is a Northern Mockingbird! Once the hawk has cleared my head and the gate the mockingbird turns back and disappears within the leafy arms of the mesquite tree. Me? Well, I am standing there still holding the hummingbird feeder with my jaw slack and my eyes wide. I think to myself that I just had a Cooper’s Hawk skim my head. Did I get any pictures? No, I was just outside to fill my feeders. I did not have my camera or my bins! Later when I calm down I think that no matter how much time I spend in and with nature, it never ceases to surprise and amaze me. But, I never did figure out who was making the noise!

Notes from my nest: I know I have been bouncing back and forth between what is happening in Connecticut and what is happening here in Tucson. This story actually happened to me today. Tomorrow will be another Connecticut story. In spite of the heat and humidity I have be able to get out birding, sometime with Chris Rohrer, sometimes with Celeste, and sometimes by myself. I have so many more stories to come and I hope you will come back and read them. Thank you always for your visits and your comments on my blog! and don’t forget to take a peek at Kathie’s Poet Tree!


  1. Maybe that noise was the mockingbird trying to scare away the hawk. What an exciting experience.

  2. Cool experience, with the hawk doing a fly by over your head. Maybe it was the mocker making the noises? Great story, Kathie! Happy Birding and have a great weekend!

  3. Katie, that has happened to me. I was in the front yard because I heard one and yes, it swooped down right above my head, apparently after one of the doves! We have one that lives (hunts) in our neighborhood. I hear it every now and then and I also find dove feathers. Did I have my camera? Nope...sigh...

  4. WOW!! That's quite a story! And a pretty cool memory! I have a few of those - bird memories that I didn't/couldn't document with my camera!

  5. Those brave, brave Mockingbirds! They are so much fun to watch. How exciting to have the Cooper's coming at you that way. It was probably just as frightened as you were. Next time you go out to fill the feeders bring your camer! LOL
    Enjoyed your post!

  6. I think the Coopers Hawk was saying 'You're the bird lady, will you please save me from this annoying Mockingbird!'
    What a special moment :)


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.