Follow the safety reminders below whenever you get out into the woods and fields during local hunting seasons.
Let’s begin at the end of the tale: Don’t watch these short movies if you live in Disneyland. The first one is shorter (40 sec) with more behavioral displays – pause to see the riot of feathers. The second one is longer (2 min) with more tenderizing (and traffic noise).
Spike’s continuing story:
We had quite a scare a couple of weeks ago. Mer had fed Spike his morning mouse. We were standing within arm’s reach of Spike, who was perched on the wall between us and the neighbor’s yard. Suddenly, Spooky the black cat leapt from the far side of the wall and landed on Spike. It was as startling as any horror movie. Spike squawked, Mer shrieked, and I exclaimed, “Son of a Bitch!” to my own great surprise. Spike managed to fly off. Spooky disappeared – lucky for him, because I was stalking him brick in hand. Spike ran down the road toward Indian School and its traffic. We watched him run around the corner, so we knew he was probably OK but feared we’d never see him again.
To our great relief, Spike clattered for food from the rooftop the next morning. He looked a bit disheveled but uninjured. He doesn’t return every day or twice a day, as he used to, but we hope that means better chances for his survival.
Of course, we should let wildlife remain wild. Failing to do so puts them and us at risk. However, humans are often captivated by a wild creature that shows curiosity and expresses a unique personality. I’ve been observing roadrunners for over 25 years and I’ve never known one like Spike, as I think a few photos will show. Although he isn’t really our pet nor do we want him to be, if you name a creature, feed it, and miss it when it doesn’t show up, someone is a pet. Perhaps we are Spike’s.
Roadrunners often expose their backs to the sun for warmth. The feathers there are particularly thin and sparse. However, I’ve never seen the posture Spike assumes in these two photos. (It was late afternoon and over 90 degrees – I doubt he was cold.)
Spike showed up one morning when we were feeding a turtle ground beef. He rattled, which may be a call for food or an expression of curiosity. Mer has learned to imitate him and he comes when she calls. As his surrogate mama, Mer showed him how to find worms in the compost and fed him a grasshopper (I missed that photo op).
When we told a friend at Hawks Aloft that we were feeding Spike ground beef, she said it wasn’t nutritious enough. So, we bought a bag of frozen mice from Hawks Aloft (“chocolate,” ie, brown). Spike figured out what to do immediately – he swung it by the tail and smashed it on the ground repeatedly. Yum, tender.
I was a little alarmed when an adult roadrunner showed up and took the burger ball from Spike, but that only happened once. However, Spike had a young friend with him one morning – we called her Alice (after “Spike and Alice,” derived from a card game called Spite and Malice – hat tip to the Mullanys).
See more pictures and videos.
Read an update with new photos (10/02/12)
What’s your favorite part of the Great Blue Heron? The long legs? That heavy bill? Those big wings? We can’t get enough of them! We found the five below.
Here are five great photos of woodpeckers that caught our eye. Click on a photographer’s name to see more of his or her photos.
Photographed in Tobago, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala, the hummingbirds below are great examples of the beautiful birds to be found in Central and South America.
Identifying birds is an interesting challenge. Recognize that a bird is a hybrid must be a higher-level skill. mjh
The birds below are unique; they’re hybrids. That is, they contain the genetic DNA for two different species. Look up each member of each pair in your field guide. See if you can spot the characteristics of each species in the hybrid. The photographs were taken by readers. We found them in our online galleries.
I’d like to know if being handled and wired makes hawks more aggressive. mjh
Dive-bombing hawks fly into metro study
Umbrella best defense during nesting season
Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2012, 5:56 PM MDT
Published : Thursday, 14 Jun 2012, 5:56 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An unusual study is going on in northeast Albuquerque involving Cooper’s Hawks and tiny bird backpacks.
The New Mexico Department of the Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are teaming up to see just how aggressive the hawks are during their nesting season, which runs from May to July.
Each year there are about 20 calls in the city of Albuquerque about aggressive hawks, and almost all of those calls are about the Cooper’s hawk.
If a hawk in your neighborhood is dive bombing you, there are two things you can do: yell and shoo them away or simply use an umbrella when you are close to the tree where they are nesting. Cooper’s won’t see you as a threat if you are under an umbrella.
The aggression will stop once the babies are out of the nest.
Biologists have found 60 nesting pairs of Cooper’s hawks in northeast Albuquerque, and there are many more around the city.
The first step in the research requires capturing the hawks. That’s where Eve, the rehabilitated great horned owl, is put to work.
Horned owls are the enemy of the Cooper’s hawk, so Eve is put on a perch and an invisible net is set up. The Cooper’s are captured, banded and data gathered.
The hawks play an important role in urban ecology. State Game and Fish biologist Kristin Madden says they are fantastic for rodent control and pigeon and dove control as well.
When the fledglings are ready to fly, they will be fitted with tiny bird backpacks. The tracking device has Teflon straps that fit right under the birds feathers, with a tiny transmitter.
The data gathered will help biologists learn more about nesting, survival rates and disease in the birds as well as migration.
Interestingly, Albuquerque’s Cooper’s hawks like it here. They don’t migrate but stay here year round.
The data gathered on the Cooper’s hawks also help scientists learn more about other raptors, such as bald and golden eagles.
NM Game and Fish is proposing changes to the bear and cougar rules that will harm these animals. Trapping is in there too as you can see. Sandia Mountain BearWatch is organizing a protest at the Albuquerque NM Game and Fish office because they want an unconscionable number of bears to be killed. In addition, they want to add a provision that with only the say-so of the Department Director mountain lion trapping can be authorized without any oversight from the Game Commission. Currently, the Department Director is himself a trapper. The Department also wants to allow year round cougar hunting which will result in orphaned kittens and to increase the bag limit from one cougar to two.
What: Protest the Bear and Cougar proposals at NM Game and Fish in Abq.
When: Friday, June 15, 10 AM to noon
Where: NM Game and Fish office in ABQ
Take I-25 to the Jefferson Exit
west on Jefferson away from the freeway to Singer (stop light)
left/west on Singer, go 1/2 block to Office Blvd.
right/north on Office Blvd
go 1 block to end of street to Midway Pl
The NMG&F office is at the end of the street at 3841 Midway Pl. NE
We visit the area around Alameda frequently. There is a large free parking area just southeast of the bridge. This area is the northern end of the miles-long Paseo del Bosque bike trail through the bosque. Within an easy walk are the old bridge, now closed to cars but used by walkers, cyclists, and equestrians, as well as unpaved trails radiating east, south, and north along both sides of the river. In fact, there are multiple levels of trails along the acequias and closer to the riverbank. What a fabulous area to hike, especially early in the day. (The shade is great but may not be cool enough by late afternoon, even in late spring.)
Birds are an an added bonus to the other natural beauty of the area, which includes wonderful views of the Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande river,