We love a good mystery at the bird store. When customers come in with bird descriptions, it's fun to try an puzzle out what bird they are seeing. My favorites are the blurry, grainy photos or even bird parts that people bring in and we try to figure out what species is there. Customer Maria Hafner had a mystery bird and turns out to be a great photographer so this is our latest mystery at the bird store.
Hafner is very good to her ducks. She feeds them lots of corn and even keeps water open for them in the winter. Last week she slowed down her order of corn and said that she had a hawk eating the ducks. Denny and I were intrigued, and asked how the hawk was getting the ducks. The first thought was that the only hawk in the area big enough that could take down a mallard would be a red-tail, but duck isn't their usual fare. Hmmm.
Hafner described how the hawk sits in the tree and watches flock of mallards in the pond. The mallards are so used to her feeding, that as soon as she opens her door they fly up from the pond towards her. The hawk then takes off from the tree and grabs one of the ducks from the air and goes down into the wetland and presumably eats the catch. This had happened three days in a row and Hafner was tired of setting up a situation for one of the ducks to be taken out. She described the bird as brown on back, light with streaking on the front. This narrowed the hawk id a bit, a goshawk was possible, but Denny felt it was too early for one to be seen in the metro area. I thought maybe an immature peregrine since it was catching ducks on the wing, but a mallard is awful big for a peregrine to take down. We asked if she had photos, and she did. She emailed them and the hawk id was revealed. Here are the photos. Can you id the hawk visiting her yard?
Note the large hawk in the on the large snow covered tree branch right above the mallards. The photo has been cropped, there are at least 60 mallards in the original photo.
Great shot of the hawk taking out mallards--my favorite part of this photo? The hint of blood on the tip of the tail.