We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
We have a few Sharp-Shinned Hawks in the neighborhood this winter who have decided not to bother flying further south, and that it is more energy-efficient to hang out here and to feed off the sparrows and Goldfinches around peoples' bird feeders.
I almost got a photo of one this morning, perched on the tray of my feeder three feet from my window. I could see the iris of her alert eye. She fled when I reached for my camera.
Thus does my bird-feeder do double-duty, because I love seeing these small dive-bomber predators around the place. I have watched them catch a few delicious English Sparrows but they seem to miss their target most of the time despite their talent at crashing through shrubs in hot pursuit.
It's too bad the Sharpies won't take some of my Grey Squirrels, but they are Accipters - hunters of birds on the wing. We human bird-hunters can relate: hunting is not shopping.
It's striking how many fewer hawks there are here in Pennsylvania than Indiana, where hawks are ubiquitous, especially low over the roads, back and forth (I've always been told critters are easy for them to spot on the pavement). Seeing hawks in Indiana is a daily occurrence. You see some here, but not many.
Cool bird. I have not seen hawks in our neighborhood, but we have had several owls in recent years. I think barn owls. We do not have a birdfeeder because there are too many raccoons in our neighborhood, frequently rabid. After several trips by animal control to shoot sick raccoons, we try to avoid anything like squirrel...er....bird feeders that might attract them.
We have glorious herons and egrets on a tidal pond we enjoy watching from our deck. I love the contrast between their exquisite lines and their ugly screeches and their mundane digging in the mud for snails, etc. Beauty and the muck. I suppose we are all a bit like that: in flight, from some angles, breathtaking, but taking sustenance and generally solidly mired in the mundane.
But my wicked hunting cat would get any birds that got too close. We have trained her not to go after them when we are around (a water spritzer is good aversive conditioning), but we couldn't guard a feeder all day.
I know you hate cats, BD, but ours caught three mice in the house this weekend alone (careless teenagers leave back door open and the cold drives the mice in) and earns her keep with the rodents that she dispatches. She is a truly elegant predator. I know, I know, you will say that she is not native....I am trying to get her to hunt squirrels, without any luck. The dog is too old and slow now.
I believe roosters will keep cats away from the bird feeders. Anyway I have six feral roosters this year, and have seen no cats near the feeders since they showed up. Of course you still have the roosters.
Just after reading your excellent post, I happened to hear a cardinal calling from somewhere in the old silver maple and stepped outside. Looking up, I saw NOT the cardinal, but a hawk -- couldn't see it well enough to identify species. It was probably watching the cardinal, waiting for it to take flight, but when it spotted me took off.