Not a Worm

You know what they say: The early bird gets the worm.

In this case, the early bird wasn’t the least bit interested in a worm, but instead chose dove or mockingbird as its breakfast of choice.

Just as it was light this morning, I spotted this juvenile male Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter cooperii, enjoying a meal atop the remains of my neighbor’s Arizona Ash tree. The tree was damaged during the February 2021 freeze, but retained some of its lower branches. The upper branches all died and were removed last summer. What remains are some well-utilized perches for a variety of birds, including this beauty.

It’s possible that the hawk caught its prey yesterday evening, ate some of it, and saved the rest to finish for breakfast. I know I like left over pizza for breakfast, though I’d probably pass on dove. To each their own.

As I watched the hawk, it fluttered from the highest perch, to the one just below. I’m not certain what the advantage of the lower perch presented, but the hawk stayed for a bit, flying off later to spend the day hunting.

Observe that the outer bark of the tree is pulling away from the main wood. All of the trees damaged in that devastating freeze have similar shedding of of bark, some are larger pieces like this, some smaller. The birds don’t mind, though; it’s been fun to see the variety of birds making use of these large limbs. Everything from this big hawk to tiny hummingbirds perch on various parts of these limbs. I just have to remember to notice.

17 thoughts on “Not a Worm

  1. We have a snag on our lot that predates the Icepocalypse and isn’t so neatly trimmed as it occurred naturally, but it too serves as a regular perch for raptors on the lookout for a quick meal. I consider it a natural treasure.

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    • The tree belongs to my SIL and she’s going to have that part of what remains of the tree removed in the fall. It’s potentially dangerous, though has been visited by lots of birdies. It’s too bad, but it should be removed. I assume yours is in a spot where you can leave it?

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      • Fortunately, yes as it adds a distinctly rugged and aggressively rustic note to our surroundings.

        Out here in northern Hays county it is a rare swath of trees of any size/number that doesn’t host at least one dead red oak or black walnut in the mix. Standing snags are a regular feature of any native wildscape.

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      • I love dead trees and it’s amazing how many critters love them too. Sharon would leave this tree, but it’s not in a safe spot if it decides to take a tumble. She’ll leave most of what’s left, but this part has got to go. Glad you can leave yours!

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  2. There’s a palm in my yard that’s lost a section of bark at the bottom: about 3′ x 12″ – 18″. I hadn’t thought about the freeze being the cause, but it certainly makes sense. It’s quite a large tree and seems otherwise healthy; I hope it survives.

    I was pleased that I recognized the Cooper’s. I think mine still is hanging around, although I’ve not seen it recently. Now and again, there’s a flutter of doves and a THUNK! at the sliding glass doors, and I’m sure the hawk’s looking for take-out. They’re such handsome birds — lucky you to get such nice photos.

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  3. Behind the store where I work is a hill with many ash trees and I’ve seen them peeling bark when they die. Maybe it is something specific to ash trees…or not. But whichever the case the one in your neighbor’s yard proffered a nice spot for an overnight picnic.

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    • I like that–overnight picnic. I wondered if it caught the prey the evening before, took it to wherever it sleeps, nibbled when it was peckish, finished at breakfast. Ah, the life of a predator!

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  4. It’s so sad to see trees succumb to crazy weather freak events. Your neighbor’s ash reminds me of my dad’s elms. And not just his. The entire town is full of massive tree skeletons. Read in the Washington Post the other day that 1 in 6 American tree species are threatened by extinction due to climate change. And yet, most of us don’t take any meaningful action. It’s heartbreaking.. Beautiful photos of your very content raptor, though.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/08/23/extinct-tree-species-sequoias/

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