Sunday Brunch – Sparrow Quiche and Owl Leftovers

Sometimes when the social life gets a bit dull and we find ourselves stuck in the rut of being hunkered down like hermits, the best remedy for breaking up the funk is to have someone over for dinner-someone who’ll liven things up a bit.  Or in our case, since we remain stubbornly grounded in our ruts, it took someone inviting himself over for dinner. Except we didn’t have to cook.  Getting home from church today, Evan took one look out the window and asked, “What’s that?!”

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The better question to ask was, “What bird was that Sharp-shinned Hawk eating?”  Being a typical 7-year-old, Evan wanted to chase away the hawk so he could investigate the remains.  Shoot, I wanted to see too, but I told him to wait and at least let the hawk finish its meal.    So after a short time, the Sharpie flew away and Evan and I raced out there.  Nothing but feathers.  Not a carcass, not a wing, nothing.  Thankfully there were no red feathers.  I assume the feathers were those of a House Sparrow, which if true, this hawk is welcome to drop in unannounced for dinner anytime.

Beyond the exciting ordeal in the yard, birding has been pretty dead.  Steve and I went out for a bit today on another hopeless hunt for wintering Long-eared and Northern Saw-whet Owls.  I guess a FOY Northern Shrike (for me, not Steve) was some sort of consolation prize.

We’re putting in our time, we keep telling ourselves.  But even as we do so, the peripheral birding is abysmal if not non-existent.  There is a shortage on birds of the barren field variety this winter – Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings are largely MIA.  Their presence at least adds a little life to the countryside. We did run into a couple small flocks of the Larks today, and we did turn up a solitary SNBU for Steve’s FOY. Still it wasn’t much, and it is otherwise a dead zone everywhere.

Even this winter’s saving grace, the influx of several accommodating, local Snowy Owls, seems to be officially over, for now anyway.  It has been over a week now since I have seen a Snowy.   At least Wilma was kind enough to make a final showing on one of our sunny days.

Willmar Snowy Owl

Oddly, though, I have been finding record numbers (for me anyway) of Great Horned Owls as I go to and fro.  So far in 2015 I have found three in the county and four in all.  Maybe some day I’ll see one close and in good light.

Great Horned OwlSo as the sun sets on each winter day with minimal birding activity, thoughts drift more and more to spring migration and planned spring trips to Arizona and Montana, when the bird life will be overwhelming in new and old birds alike.

Great Horned Owl

In the meantime, though, hopefully we’ll have more drop-in dinner company.  Sparrow anyone?

6 thoughts on “Sunday Brunch – Sparrow Quiche and Owl Leftovers

  1. yeah yeah, blase’ NOrthern Shrikes and Snow Buntings, no Snowies for the week. The grass is always greener, even when it’s tundra.

    Here’s to traveling and birding anew!

    • I suppose you’re right, Laurence–I shouldn’t overlook the quality for lack of quantity or rarity. Would it be too much to ask to at least see a Northern Shrike get a weakling SNBU away from his flock and take him down? I’d settle for a SNOW taking a cat too.

    • I don’t know Caleb, you seem to do better with a bike. How about we hook you up with some cross-country skis and snowshoes and send you into the least-birded, most-remote areas–we need you to dig up the rarities for us while we bird from the comfort of our warm cars! But, hey, practice up on driving like you’ve got no brakes because they don’t do you much good on our winter roads!

  2. I had a Cooper’s recently drop in and eat my over wintering hermit thrush! It picked the rarest bird in the yard to eat, though now I am wondering if the hawk was a sharp-shinned. I thought it was at first and recorded it that way, then doubted myself when I saw the photos and changed it to cooper’s but your photo looks the same as mine, even with the white speckling on the back, so now I am wondering if I was right the first time! I was sad the hawk ate my hermit thrush. I wish it had gotten a dove or junco instead. I do not have any house sparrows at my house for it to dine on, but I did not begrudge it its dinner. I know how hard it is for them to actually make a kill, and in this winter cold, they really need to eat! The photos are up on my blog, but just down a few posts.

    Cheer up, spring is on its way, and with it migration time! Your trips to Montana and AZ sound promising. You can’t go to AZ and not see and get new birds and great ones at that! Have fun! I am hoping to make it back to AZ soon as well, as soon as my darn arm heals up! That’ll really boost my year list which is woefully just 58 species right now! I was well over 100 species by this time last year, but I had spent all of January in AZ before we moved in February.

    • That CO/SSHA has good taste apparently! What a bugger. I based my ID off the small, rounded head and shorter tail. I read your post, and that bird could go either way in my opinion. It’s very similar to mine which has me lean SS, but the ruff on the back of the neck makes me think CO. I hate those ones that are not readily definitive.

      AZ will be epic. We’ll be hitting Mount Ord, Sunflower and Madera Canyon with Tommy DeBardeleben. I can’t wait! May AZ be good to both of us!

      Your 2015 list is twice as many as mine…

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