Saturday, August 21, 2010
Hawks and Tiny's "Talent"
Today, when I arrived at the lake, I think I saw Tiny and his mom, Martha, together, sleeping. They woke up and flew to another part of the bay. Tiny and Martha look so much alike in many ways, their breast bands are very similar and Tiny sometimes can look female in direct light, except you can see a little bit of a mustache growing. They have slightly different shaped heads, but are pretty close to the same size.
When I went to the ballpark area, I only found 7 killdeer and I think they were all adults. They were doing alarm deets and looking at me standing outside the fence. This was unusual as they don't usually get upset when I stand where I was standing. They were also hardly moving and then they began laying down in the grass. This is a sign that they are hiding from a visual predator such as a hawk. So, I looked around and found a Cooper's Hawk right above me. He swooped down to catch a grackle, who got away, and then perched right above my head. I thought of taking a photos, but decided not to.
I went away to check on the duckling, but he was not there, again. In fact, almost all the ducks were gone from that area save a couple of males and one female, not the duckling's mom. There were about twenty ducks laying on the shore in a closed area. I figured the duckling and his mom just went somewhere else due to the heat we've been having.
When I came back, the hawk was gone and so were all the killdeer and other birds. One male killdeer was there, alone when I went onto the field, but he flew over towards George's territory. Other killdeer were heard on Del Cerro and Cowles Point, most likely the adult chicks and, possibly, their mom.
When I was leaving, I was hoping to see George with Firecracker and Killer, but, instead, found the two brothers, Tiny and Killer comforting each other without a parent in sight. When Killer got a little nervous because of a dog passing by, he chirped to his brother and began walking towards him. Then, Tiny met him and did a trill, a greeting that I've heard the brothers do before. Trilling is usually associated with an angry killdeer, but I think, in this case, this was a happy sound they made to make sure neither of them wanted to fight.
I've heard of killdeer eating dead minnows before, but Tiny seems to have a knack for catching live ones. I've caught him, at least twice, catching minnows and even have a photo of him doing so:
He seems to bite them through their middle, but the tail parts of the fish wrap around his nostrils and upper part of his bill. I believe he waits until the fish dies, rinses his bill and eats the remaining parts as they wash off. I never see him do anything different than any other killdeer in catching them, yet he seems to be able to. He must move quicker than the eye.
When another group of people walked by, including a little girl who was not very respectful of wildlife, they flew off. As I was leaving, I heard the aggressive deet sound and saw one killdeer chasing another. I think it was George chasing away one of the seven killdeer, most likely the lone bachelor, sending him back to the ballfield area. He even took a swipe at the intruder. I would bet that this male got a look at Firecracker and may have tried to steal her away, but dad said "no". Apparently, Firecracker said, "no" also as she didn't follow him.
A good thing about crows:
Crows have a bad reputation and I have to admit that they quite often deserve it. They attack and tease other birds for no reason. They also eat eggs and chicks and sometimes kill adult birds. But, one thing crows are good for is keeping birds of prey out of the area. A red-tail hawk was circling around George's territory, probably looking for squirrels or rabbits, but the crows attacked him. And, crows seem to know the difference between a hawk and a vulture, too. Two vultures were flying nearby, un-harassed, but the hawk was definitely unwelcome in the crows' area.
Cute, cute, cute: A sanderling family of 4!
They were adorable, bathing and being cute. I think two are juvenile.
Sanderlings are brave and not afraid of larger birds. I've seen them attack killdeer, who often gang up on them. They aren't even really afraid of people and not shy at all. And, they can be cute, too!