Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Early Bird

I ride the bus to work every day, and to arrive at the office by 8:00, I must leave home shortly before 7:00 in the morning. All winter it has been dark at that time of day. Sometimes the street lights would turn the frosty grass into lawns of crystal, sparkling in the lamp light. Mostly it was just cold and dark though. Now that it is early March, the skies are lighter in the morning, and the birds serenade me down to the bus stop. It's fun to hear the different species establishing their territories.
Today, as I left the door, I noticed two birds in the neighbor's tree. "Biggest doves I've ever seen," I thought to myself. The closer I got, the less they looked like doves. In fact, it turned out to be a pair of Sharp-shinned Hawks! What a terrific way to start the morning! It is worth missing the bus to go get the camera for some photos. I can always drive and still be there in time. Since the sun wasn't officially up yet, the camera saw mostly silhouettes against a gray sky. Also, remember that these birds were 30 feet straight up from the street, an awkward angle any time of day. Photoshop Elements did some serious editing to make the details visible, but this is good practice too.
Sharpies have a reputation of hanging around bird feeders in suburban yards to enjoy the "fast food," but I haven't noticed any around here. Two summers ago we had a pair of Coopers' Hawks nesting in between the back yards, but didn't know it until the fledglings showed up in the lawn sprinklers. The male of this pair flew away for a few minutes and then came back to land on top of his mate. Perhaps they are shopping for a nesting site on our street. The female flew out of the tree and into a spruce across the way. I had to laugh when at least half a dozen smaller birds burst out into the open at once. They sure looked surprised!

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