Anyway, as I went out to fill the feeders last weekend I was accompanied by my frequent helper, Garrett. I noticed an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk hanging out in an ash tree next to our biggest blue spruce, no doubt deciding on a strategy to get at the House Sparrows and Finches deep within (earlier in the week I heard and then saw the same Sharpie deep within the spruce, playing tag with the House Sparrows.) Garrett didn’t see the hawk and proceeded to walk almost right beneath it. Amazingly the Sharpie didn’t fly away despite the proximity of a pre-schooler cavorting below. I took this as a sign to go get my camera and ended up with some nice close-ups as the bird was remarkably tolerant of close approach.
Raptors are smart cookies and I think that the Sharpie was hoping we’d flush out a sparrow or finch. I went around the fence to the patch of open space behind our yard to get some pics of its belly side and heard birds nervously calling and shifting around in the brush pile I’ve made there, which really drew the Sharpie’s attention. The next thing I knew, the hawk flew seemingly right at my head but passed just overhead. It must have been a false start because it broke off any chase, swooped up and landed in the cottonwood. A few minutes later, though, a House Sparrow made a dash from the brush pile and the Sharpie pursued it out of sight around a corner, gaining fast. No wonder Bill Thompson III calls these birds Death Rockets!