Looking for Lunch.

A male Sharp-shinned Hawk flew by the front windows in pursuit of a sparrow, and missed, so retreated back to the pine. I got one bad shot, standing up on the shelf in front of the windows, then he took off in pursuit once more. Saw him flying a couple more times, then couldn’t see him anymore. I waited a while, and the sparrows weren’t coming back. The chickadees were messaging, but not willing to come down to the deck. Waited some more. A couple of chickadees made the mad dash, grabbed a seed and took off. A couple of sparrows landed high in the side pine. Two Downy woodpeckers showed, and slowly, more birds were coming back. Then the Downy made a panic move, and froze. Absolutely still. Minutes ticked by, not a movement. I kept scanning the side pine, but couldn’t see anything. By the time four minutes had gone by, I knew that hawk was there, because that’s an extremely long time for a bird to stay absolutely still. I opened the window, not so much as a tremor from the Downy. I climbed onto the windowsill, and finally spotted the hawk. Half crouched on the window frame, in subzero temps, I’m trying to shoot the damn thing. In the 5th photo is where you can see that I finally got his attention, and in spite of the fact I’m much larger than he is, that’s creepier than fuck. Click for full size.








© C. Ford.


  1. says

    Truly amazing pictures.

    I know you know that the hawk did devoure some little animal later on and definitively prior to this photoshoot. Predation is not pretty, but it is how things are.

  2. rq says

    Oh my, simply glorious, and that lighting! Even the Downy looks epic against that light.
    I actually found photo #3 creepier, but I guess that’s an individual thing. Such glare.

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    In the last he must have come to realise that his sharp shins can’t handle carrying away anything as big as you are.

    Wonderful pictures.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Hmm, a sharp-shinned hawk weighs about 100 g or 4 oz. The ratio of weights with an average human is such that no existing land animal would be big enough to be proportionally as big to carry for a human. 8-)

  5. Ice Swimmer says

    Speaking of proportions, a sparrow is about 1/4 to 2/5 of a sharp-shinned hawk’s weight. Flying away with one must be hard work.

    As small as the hawk is, wouldn’t like to piss it off, the beak and claws are no joke.

  6. says

    Ice Swimmer, doesn’t make it less creepy. The swiveling their head almost all the way ’round, doesn’t help. Also, raptors can do much damage, they don’t need to carry you off. :D

  7. says

    Ice Swimmer:

    Flying away with one must be hard work.

    It is, which is why they don’t hunt that way if it can be avoided. The usual method is crashing into trees full of small birds and nabbing one in the tree somewhere. Then they just perch and eat.

  8. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Love sharp shins. We get them here, but their cousin, the Cooper’s are much more common.

    Fantastic shots all around.

    I was once watching some Gold Shafted Northern Flickers near Estes Park, CO, when a Northern Goshawk came crashing through the tree. It got some feathers, but missed the flickers…..exciting to see in my binoculars, but I didn’t have a camera good enough to get pics from that range.

  9. says

    Oh Christ, it’s nuts watching them do the crash. I’ve seen it several times, and just makes me cringe and yell. We had a sharp-shinned male sorta wing hop onto our property one time, found it the next day, dead. He had almost completely sheared one leg off at the hip, trees often have sharp bits. It’s hard to tell from photos and seeing them high up, but they are so small.

  10. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    Ooh! The look of a predator sizing you up.

    Were you dismissed? Or did it keep its eye on you?

  11. gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet says

    I have only once been the subject of a gaze like that.
    It was a lion in a circus -- I was taking photos up close to the performance ring (with permission and behind wire) and it came over to ‘check me out’ -- chilling. I actually felt like prey.

  12. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    Fabulous shots, Caine.
    I’d like to see a photo of Caine crouched on a windowsill taking a photo.
    (I remember one in a giant yellow bag but the windowsill would be better.)

  13. Great American Satan says

    The creepiest act of predation I ever saw was either a heron or an egret. The difference between the two birds is obvious, I just saw them both at the same time / place and don’t remember which did it -- about 70% sure it was the egret because I was staring at it a lot. Anyhow, it snagged a small mammal out of the reeds, and choked it down alive. But as it was wiggling, I could tell the mammal was really short, chubby, and silky-furred. Probably something cute, definitely nourishing anyhow. ; . ;

  14. says


    I’d like to see a photo of Caine crouched on a windowsill taking a photo.

    Oh hell no. I was wearing a thin, short robe, that’s it.

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