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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Huge but really really cool picture post
chromatic self
Trying to get some administrative stuff taken care of (namely, a $5 standing balance on my college account from locking myself out of my room last semester), I saw about nine squirrels running around (and yelling a lot) in the trees outside of Busch Hall. I wasn't the only one who noticed: a very small (and presumably young) bird of prey noticed as well, but didn't get a squirrel for lunch- instead, a pigeon dumb enough to fly right in front of it was removed from the gene pool. (Natural selection in action: culling the stupid.)

So I have about 16 pictures of a young bird of prey catching and eating lunch... including three userpics, which anybody is welcome to claim and I suspect some of you might be interested in. These are really neat pictures, but there are a whole lot of them,

Some of the pictures are pretty blurred, but a few are crystal-clear. I'm still a novice at photography; I'm learning how to hold the camera steady, but it's tricky, especially when I'm using a x3 optical zoom for a x11 digital zoom and the smallest waver is magnified greatly. I need a small portable tripod or something.

The Attack The Attack

This young bird of prey has just caught a rather unfortunate pigeon. I'd have more sympathy for the pigeon if it wasn't dumb enough to fly right in front of the predator...
Feathers Fly Feathers Fly

Apparently, even though he (or she) is covered with them, the hungry bird of prey doesn't particularly enjoy eating feathers.
Frightened Spectator Frightened Spectator

This squirrel is wondering if he (or she) is next...

This squirrel is wondering what the dude with a camera is doing.
Fighting Fighting

The pigeon was still putting up a bit of a fight at this point... not much of one, though.
Lunch To Go Lunch To Go

Yes, this shot is really blurred. What you can barely see is the bird just managing to haul the pigeon out of the frame; I barely got the picture at all, so I'm not too upset about the serious motion blur. (I was moving the camera pretty fast, considering it was at x11 digital zoom, which is what most of the pictures were taken at; the optical zoom limit for the camera is x3.)
Mine, dammit Mine, dammit

This young bird of prey (look, he's not that much larger than the pigeon) is obviously rather proud of his kill. I wonder if it's something he hasn't done that many times before. Whatever it is, he's displaying that it's his all the way and he's not letting anbody else have it...
Munch munch munch Munch munch munch

Now that the pigeon has been sufficiently plucked, he's starting the meal; this was taken about two minutes after the other picture that looks nearly identical.
Squirrel silhouette Squirrel silhouette

This squirrel watches the scene warily from a high branch.
Squarj? Squarj?

Blurred shot, but not as bad as I've been known to do. (Or as bad as the seven pictures I didn't upload.) Just another squirrel... There were about nine squirrels running around in front of Busch Hall (one of the buildings on the Quad, where I was), and I suspect they're what attracted the attention of the predator. I know they're what got my attention.
Young Predator Young Predator

This is the clearest picture of the bird itself, in part because it's a purely optical zoom (x3, not x11 with digital zoom that works by using the full resolution of the camera, scaling it to the resolution of the photograph, and then sort of pretending for the remaining pixels). Too bad he's not facing the camera.
Close Up Close Up

Similar to the previous picture, but with x11 digital zoom that apparently worked very well in this case. That bird is only slightly larger than the pigeon it had for lunch. It's obviously the same species as the much larger adult bird I got a blurred picture of at the end of last semester- can anybody identify it now?
Slightly blurred bird Slightly blurred bird

This time, I (and the bird) have moved so you can actually see the bird's face, but the shot is somewhat blurred; I'm not perfect at holding the camera steady yet, especially at x11 zoom where any jiggle really gets maximized.
Smile, Userpic Edition Smile, Userpic Edition

This is a digitally-enhanced, cropped, and scaled version of the picture of the graffitied concrete thing I uploaded the picture of yesterday. I'm claiming this as a userpic for myself.
Y HELO THAR, userpic edition Y HELO THAR, userpic edition

A cropped and re-sized version of the Y HELO THAR squirrel earlier in this set. Anybody want him as a userpic?
Mine, dammit! Userpic edition Mine, dammit! Userpic edition

The bird of prey displaying his posession of his kill made for a really good userpic, too. I've got about half a flock of birds on my Friends List who may be interested- anybody want this as a userpic?
Bird, userpic edition Bird, userpic edition

And here's the photo of the bird, digitally zoomed, resized and cropped to be a very good userpic. Again, anybody want to use this? If you want both this and the previous image as a userpic, tell me which one you want more; if someone else wants the one you called second, they get it. (It's only fair.) But whoever calls it first can have it.

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That's a Cooper's Hawk. Mmm, accipitrine goodness.

And as a note, birds are as grown as they're ever going to get when they leave the nest. A 33% or so size difference can be explained by sexual dimorphism (females are larger in raptors), and there is a smaller type of this hawk, the Sharp-Shinned.

Ohohoh, and that's not displaying possesion. Quite the opposite. Mantling over prey is intended to hide it from others that might wanna steal. :>

I'd love the mantly-one for a userpic. :>

You're welcome to that userpic, then! I'm not entirely sure what the hawk would be hiding its catch from, mind you... carnivorous squirrels? Me?

I'd honestly be surprised if that's a full-grown bird, but you know quite a lot more about the subject than I do. Perhaps it's a different species from the one I'd seen previously- the bird pictured here was under a foot tall, while the other one was at least two and a half feet tall... a nontrivial difference, to put it mildly.

I still think the earlier photo was of a red-tail - only common raptor I know of that's that size. That's without even looking at the photo, with the nice characteristic red blur that's most likely his tail. ;)

The larger bird was probably a red tail. I was going to suggest that this one might be a sharp shin, but you've got the answer already: Cooper's. We don't see them often where I am, but sharp shins are fairly common.

Sharp shins prefer other birds as prey, while red tails generally prefer small mammals.

The other birds. :> Note how it would be effective from hiding things from *above*.

Coops are small. Sharpies smaller. So it's okay. You prolly saw a Redtail before, way bigger.

... so that's what's been leaving the little piles of pigeon feathers all over campus ...

(Deleted comment)
I was thinking the same thing. All we have at home are cardinals (pretty!), bluejays (pretty!), crows (only overhead, they never seem to stop on our fence like the cardinals and bluejays do), geese (yuck) and seagulls (yuck).

Awesome pics though.

I'd like "Bird, userpic edition" as a userpic.

I don't know much about Cooper's hawks, but I will note that peregrine falcons regularly hunt and kill birds larger than themselves, stooping at 200 mph (320 km/hr) to stun their prey on the wing.

You're welcome to take it as a userpic!

"Stun" is probably optimistic here. That pigeon was fighting as it went down. "Stunned" might be a fair assertion fo its state after it was dragged from the concrete to the grass; it was actually still alive for a while (by its rather "ouch"-like chirps) after the hawk started plucking it...

I wasn't clear--the Cooper's hawk you photographed stooped on a bird on the ground. Peregrines hunt differently; I mentioned them only because of the size issue.

Thanks for the userpic.

*random trivia*

A young male hawk is called a Tercel.

*random trivia*

A young male hawk is called a Tercel.

Weird, wonder why it logged me out last time.

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