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