A gigantic raven visited today. First, I saw him strutting around the driveway, amid a flock of turkeys. He was so big I thought he was one of them initially. Then he lit on the deck right outside my desk and posed for me. He seems ancient and war weary, with his torn feathers, faded beak, and blind eye. -EO
The ospreys that nest on Robertson Bridge have returned within the past week. This morning, a stray osprey was circling low over our driveway. Not the best picture, but the underwing, the brown upper parts, and the black streak on the head are definitive. -EO
As All About Birds says, The Purple Finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” Schucking a husk, the dark line from his eye is a shadow (see photo of same bird below).
Red-shouldered hawks are just beginning to expand their range north into Oregon. Sightings are rare. That makes what happened today that much more special: a pair of them, doing a courtship flight right above my head. They like tall, biodiverse forests near water for their nests. This couple has done quite nicely for itself. I will listen for nestlings in a few weeks. -EO
The girls just go for purple males keeping their more subtle coloring. Similar to female house finches, the purple finch female has strong white bars on her face and have more pronounced streaking. This photo is only good enough (with a few others) to confirm the sighting of a new bird for our list. Looking for better pics and of a showy male.
This flew right past me as I stood in the driveway today, more or less at eye level. I was lucky to get enough of a read as to size to know this is a Cooper's hawk and not a sharp-shinned hawk. They are look-alikes, but the Cooper's is bigger, and takes correspondingly bigger prey. Where sharp-shinneds like little songbirds, Cooper's hawks like robins, doves, and so on. The woods were alive with songbirds when this passed through and they never missed a beat -- suggesting they knew very well it wasn't hunting for them.
These are dexterous woodland fliers -- but they do have incidents. One study of Cooper's hawk skeletons showed evidence of fractured chest bones in 23 percent. Cooper's hawks are dainty in their way. They don't tear their prey up, but prefer to squeeze to death while holding it at leg's length. Drowning is also sometimes a preferred execution mode . -EO