Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

June 6, 2013

Enjoying Nature: Quick work saves a beautiful bird

CROSSVILLE — A couple of days ago, I received an urgent call from someone here in Fairfield Glade. Rein and Ellie had previously emailed me some great photos of a flying squirrel at their bird feeder, which I used in an article about the little nocturnal squirrels. This time it was a call involving some daytime excitement at that same bird feeder.

Bird feeders attract birds, and a gathering of any species attracts predators. That is why lions like waterholes, foxes appreciate hen houses and why hawks love bird feeders. If you have ever found feathers on the ground near your bird feeder you have seen the evidence that something was sampling songbirds at your feeder.

Cooper’s hawks and Sharp-shinned hawks love bird feeders because these two birds eat mostly other birds. Both hawks look almost exactly alike, except for size; the Cooper’s hawk is larger. If you have ever seen all the birds at your bird feeder suddenly disappear, one of these hawks has probably been spotted nearby, and all the songbirds are hiding until the danger goes away.

Rein and Ellie had seen feathers in their yard a time or two, but didn’t give it a lot of thought. But last week when they went outside, they found a hawk hopelessly tangled by one foot in the thin nylon netting that was protecting their shrubs from deer. That type of netting catches other animals too. Twice I have helped someone cut a snake loose from netting. When I got the phone call, I called my friend Gary, and we met at Rein and Ellie’s house in less than 10 minutes.

The hawk was a beautiful Cooper’s hawk. Cooper’s hawks are about 16-20 inches long with a wingspan of up to 30 inches. Males and females look exactly alike, except, like all birds of prey, females are larger than males. Juveniles have yellow eyes, but this hawk had the striking dark red eyes of an adult. We couldn’t tell, but we declared this one a female, if for no other reason, just so we could say “her” instead of “it.”

With our best CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) logic, we decided, that probably a small bird was sitting on the shrub near the bird feeder when the hawk swooped in for a catch. Her talons snagged the netting and a twist to get free wrapped the net securely around one toe. The struggle tightened the net even more. There was a two inch tangled ball of netting holding that Cooper’s hawk; there was no way she would ever free herself. We don’t think the hawk was caught for long, because she still had plenty of energy and was very alert. She struggled a little as we approached, and opened her sharp beak, but she never attempted to bite. As soon as Gary picked her up with gloved hands the hawk quieted down. Gary said it was as if the hawk knew we were trying to help her.

I was more concerned about the talons on the end where I was working to cut and untangle the net. You could see how effective those talons would be to grab prey. They were close to an inch long, curved, and razor sharp. I know, because that is how I was able to distinguish the black talon from the black netting. But the hawk didn’t try to use those talons; I poked myself while sorting out the netting.

Cooper’s hawks are in a group of hawks called accipiters. Accipiters have short, rounded wings for flying in tight conditions and making surprise ambush attacks. They flap, flap, glide, rather than soar like red-tailed hawks. I have seen them glide in low below the roof level of a house, and then swoop over the roof and dive down the other side to surprise a bird at a feeder. I have also seen one chase a blue jay from tree to tree. The blue jay would disappear into the branches of a big tree with the Cooper’s hawk right behind. Then a few seconds later the blue jay would emerge out the other side of the tree, with the Cooper’s hawk again, in close pursuit. They went through three trees this way before I couldn’t follow any longer.

You may have heard Cooper’s hawks called chicken hawks. Farmer’s know them for raiding the chicken yard. I don’t think they could tackle a full grown chicken but half grown chicks would be just the right size. I know two people in FFG that have seen either Cooper’s hawks or Sharp-shinned hawks grab bluebirds off their bluebird boxes. Now I know that everyone loves their little song birds, but hawks have to eat too. That’s just nature. A hawk eating a bluebird is no different than a bluebird eating a worm; it is just a little higher up the food chain.

In the end, everything worked out OK. We got the netting unwound from the hawk’s toe, and the toe didn’t appear to be broken. No blood was shed – neither mine, Gary’s, nor the hawk’s. When Gary released his grip, the hawk was gone instantly, and she cleared Ellie’s head with inches to spare, or at least an inch. I can’t be sure, but I think I saw a little wave of a wing saying, “Thanks, boys.”

• • •

Comments, questions or suggestions for future nature articles are welcome at don.hazel@gmail.com

1
Text Only
Glade Sun
  • County residents urged to vote

    Cumberland County has around 39,000 registered voters, as well as a strong reputation for voter participation.  However, as of press time on Tuesday, only 4,300 residents had taken advantage of early voting for the Aug. 7 primary and general elections. Local officials are predicting less than 50 percent of registered voters will cast their vote in the 14 days of early voting, plus election day. Only 23 percent of registered county voters participated in the May elections.

    July 30, 2014

  • Board amends by-laws

    At the July meeting of the Fairfield Glade Community Club, the board of directors approved a vote to amend the club's bylaws regarding uncontested elections of board members, effectively declaring Bob Diller and Steven Smith new board members.

    July 30, 2014

  • Naiad Kuhlman.jpg Senior olympian on the run for good health

    No one can get away with telling Naiad Kuhlman of Crossville that age is a barrier to exercise. The avid runner, personal trainer and instructor at Cumberland Medical Center’s Wellness Complex at Fairfield Glade won’t buy the excuse.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Enjoying nature.jpg Get your mink coat on the road

    It is interesting what animals you see crossing the roads sometimes. When animals cross roads, you can get a look at them, that wouldn't be possible if they stayed inside the cover of trees or grass. Sometimes, it is just a fleeting glance and you aren't sure what you saw. When you go into the woods looking for animals, they usually hide or leave the area before you even know they are around. But, roads are wide open with no cover. Also, most mammals are nocturnal, so they are out when we aren't. Anytime that I am on a two-lane road at night, I am always watching intently for wildlife in the headlights.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Read the latest edition of "The Bulletin"

    The Crossville Chronicle-Glade Sun also publishes a newsletter called "The Bulletin" in which you'll find a schedule of Glade activities and events, a restaurant and dining guide, golf information, and even tour schedules. Click here for the latest PDF edition of "The Bulletin."

    April 21, 2010 1 Link

  • Patches of Life: The replacement years

    I need a new refrigerator. There are some other things on order too as we seem to be in the replacement year of our life. Everything from the light bulbs to the computer seemed to agree that this is the year of replacement.

    July 30, 2014

  • Abacus Column: Tennessee the third most corrupt state in the U.S.?

    According to a recent article in Time magazine, Tennessee is ranked third among U.S. States in political corruption. I am not sure how they measure such crime in order to make such a charge. Does some purveyor of statistics identify the number of elected officials proved guilty in a court of law; or merely charged with corruption?

    July 30, 2014

  • A Time 4 Paws celebrates pet adoption after 3 1/2 years

    Three and a half years ago, a local no-kill animal welfare organization known as A Time 4 Paws (AT4P) received an important email. A Nashville animal shelter volunteer asked if AT4P could take two severely abused English Pointer mixes. The email said they didn't want to take back two dogs they had placed in foster care for fear they would have to kill them.

    July 30, 2014

  • A Time 4 Paws collecting shoes to help Soles4Souls in fight against global poverty

    Attention anyone with a closet! Those shoes no longer wanted are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.
    That’s the message being delivered by A Time 4 Paws, which has launched an ongoing drive to collect shoes to help the poor. Used and new shoes can be dropped off at A Time 4 Paws in Crossville and can be left in the blue recycling bin outside labeled Soles4Souls.

    July 30, 2014

  • FFG Treasure Hunt set for Sept. 5

    The 2014 Fairfield Glade Treasure Hunt is set for Friday, Sept. 5. This has always been a fun evening for those who enjoy puzzle solving, figuring out clues or just having a good time.

    July 30, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014