Sharp-shinned hawk

Sharp-shinned hawk.

Rare birds for Payne County last Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 include Mountain Bluebird (appears about every decade) and Eastern Towhee. The county also received 2.25 inches of precipitation for the seven-day period, which included rain and snow, our third snow for the season.

Many birds took advantage of all that rain, snow and ice, enjoying it in all forms at the southeast corner of Boomer Lake, referred to as The Lowlands. More birds were at The Lowlands than were either in or around the lake over a three day period from last Saturday the 2 through Monday, the 4. The area was enjoyed by Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards, American Crows, Killdeer, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, European Starlings, American Robins, Northern Flickers, American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Northern Cardinal.

Try as we might, there were no sightings of any American Pipits or airborne longspurs, but there is no point in giving up the ghost yet. Winter is young and there is still plenty of time, including early spring.

The Belted Kingfisher did not stray from Heron Cove, and Pied-billed Grebes and Great Blue Herons preferred the safety net of the water at Boomer Lake.

The Eastern Bluebirds were either in the water or on the ice, which proved to be most slippery. Writer recalls one winter where Great Blue Herons also shared the same joy of skating at Boomer Creek, which was also a photographic opportunity for a pair of Bald Eagles. Both species were equally inept at retaining balance. Birds amuse themselves, too, when circumstances dictate.

On Tuesday morning of this week, all birds except the Canada Geese preferred to remain away from the unopened waters of The Lowlands.

This Wednesday, Heron Cove entertained the antics of an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk that visits upon occasion. When it was observed, it was in possession of a meal, which could have been a Dark-eyed Junco or a Carolina Wren, both seen just moments previous to its demise. The Harris’s Sparrow likely escaped, due to its larger size.

The raptor moved to three different locations, each time held in check by a pair of the notorious Blue Jay, who gives no slack to hawks at any time. The sharpie’s location was easily communicated to us each time, and the final hour was fairly golden, as they were just overhead of the suspect.

At that juncture, the hungry hawk was more intent upon finishing its meal than transporting it elsewhere, so this photo was snatched. It had taken years to get that shot, so it was worth the extra effort to seek it out. It is included for your enjoyment, as the story behind it is now known.

We still do not see the tally from Sooner Lake CBC on the Payne County Audubon website. As soon as writer is privy to that, it will be reported in its entirety.

Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!

Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.

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