I live in the city, practically downtown, in a neighborhood which has an interesting mix of students, families that rent and blue-collar workers that own their homes. The houses are old and are slightly run down. I’m luckier than most as my house includes a small backyard with a garden and an area for feeding the birds.
Yesterday, I was trying to find my cat, Buddy. He’s an adopted street cat and he insists on going outside every day, no matter what the weather. I was getting ready to leave for the day and needed to put him back in the house before I left. He likes watching the birds at the bird feeder, so I walked around to the backyard.
Usually there are all sorts of small birds chirping away and lots of activity around the feeder: today it was very quiet. Just a few yards away, directly at eye level, sat a hawk. It wasn’t very big as far as hawks go, but I have never seen one so close before. I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone, then began slowly walking towards him, wondering how close he’d let me get. Unfortunately, the cell phone photos were not sharp enough to use here.
I had only taken a few steps when he flew up into a large black walnut tree – still in my backyard and safely out my reach. There he sat, not moving, while I found the cat (who was in hunting mode as well) put him in the house, grabbed my camera and walked up to him until I was almost directly below. He still did not budge. I took a couple more photos with my camera then decided to shoo him away. I was thinking of my cardinals and chickadees; the hawk knew that this spot was a bird buffet for him.
So I waved my hands and made various noises, but he just looked at me and didn’t move. After 20 minutes or so, I finally got in my car and drove away; the bird still sitting in the tree, waiting for lunch.
I figured that the hawk was either a small Cooper’s hawk or a large Sharp-shinned hawk. It looked as though it had a square tail (Sharp-shinned hawk) but it seemed to have a larger head in proportion to its body (Cooper’s hawk). He certainly had no real fear of me so if he visits again I’ll get better photos and possibly to positively identify him.