Saturday, January 17, 2015

Knight takes queen: Coops takes Mallard

Living in South Wilkes-Barre has a few up-sides, one of which is being close to work (1.7 miles) and food. The downside to living in a poor suburb is that there are not enough birds. Maybe this is a good thing - as I struggle to not be distracted and get work done. 

There is one species, particularly in the winter, that is reliable and distracting: Cooper's Hawk. I've seen this species catch House Sparrows at our feeders, even stalking them on the ground. Last year, I had one pick off a chipmunk just as it was warming up outside. 

Yesterday there was a large female just off the road that was obviously excited about something - tail and head twitching. 

Today, she was back an I investigated the spot from where she took off. Apparently, she was able to kill a Mallard. An impressive kill for this size of bird. And a young bird too - the yellow iris indicating a hatch year bird. Females are larger than males and weight about 600 g and female Mallards are over 1000 g. Yea. I found the head of the duck about a km from the Susquehanna R. Did she kill it there and try to fly off with it? Was the duck flying in? Did she consume most of it somewhere else? I only found the head and some skin connecting it to a foot. Impressive. Could a hunter have disposed of it and she was scavenging? Anyways, here is the duck and her.


  1. Cool birds. I first saw them regularly when I lived in SC, where I had a ~1 acre yard with several large trees, but was mostly a large lawn surrounded by hedges and thick undergrowth. The lawn had obviously been hit hard by pesticides in the several years prior to my moving there. I observed only 3 species of birds the first fall, but then 21 the following year and more the 40 in the 2nd June I was there. It was then that the micro-climate was discovered by a Barred Owl and a Cooper's Hawk. Somehow the local population of small birds got shy at that point. . . It was a good object lesson for me in how making a couple small, but good decisions (no lawn treatments, high-cut mowing) could have a positive impact on the local environment.

  2. One of the pie-in-the-sky projects I'd like to start is greening up the Wilkes-Barre area. I have a few silver maples started and I want to grow some oaks in our un-used but swanky greenhouses.