A Red-shouldered hawk alighted just off of Opening Hill Road in Madison, CT Sunday morning, looking for breakfast.
For a hawk like this, a mouse, frog or snake would have been fine. A small rabbit or squirrel? Even better. You might think that isn't such a tall order for a magnificent bird like this that is close to the top of the food chain. They come equipped with "broad wings, sharp binocular eyesight, precise hearing, ... dagger–like talons and hooked beaks ... key characteristics which make them especially adapted for hunting."
But, hunting just to survive also requires quite a bit of patience, say Jerry and Janet Connolly, the owners of the Aubudon Shop downtown.
"This Red-shouldered Hawk came in early this morning, and spent over two hours just sitting above the feeders, watching, waiting, looking for an opportunity. Life is not easy for predators, and we know that hawks and owls just hunt to survive," they said in a Facebook post that included the pictures.
Still, it's always a thrill to see such a magnificent animal in the yard, said the Connollys, who saw and photographed the hawk in the yard of their home off of Opening Hill road just below the traffic circle.
On the other side of their yard were some Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins, which are not always in the area in the winter.
"Redpolls are slightly larger than siskins," the Connolly's wrote. "They will come to feeders, usually scratching around on the ground for spilled seed, as this guy was doing. So, even in winter, the yard is alive with life ... "
Janet Connolly said the pictures were taken with the help of a digiscope.
"Digiscoping is the practice of photographing birds with a digital camera through a telescope or binoculars. With the advent of digital cameras, birders out in the field started hand holding their cameras up to their telescopes and discovered through trial and error, that it is possible to take a photograph," she said. "Manufacturers of telescopes took notice, and several have designed adapters specific to their scopes that enable one to attach a camera or an IPhone 4 to the ocular lens (the one you look through)."
Janet said the adapter holds the camera steady and at the perfect angle, ensuring the best possible image.
"It's a lot of fun to be able to capture a bird (or animal) with relative ease, and you don't have to be a camera expert to get decent shots!"
For more information about digiscoping, attracting birds to your backyard, and the latest on who is seeing what where, you can stop by the shop and talk with Janet or Jerry. The shop is located at 907 Boston Post Road in Madison, CT. The phone number is (203) 245-9056.
Janet also wanted to remind everyone that "Jerry is leading Eagle Watches on the CT River, starting at the end of this month. The first 2 dates are full, but we've got room on Feb 9, 17, 23 and Mar 2. Prime Eagle viewing time coming up! $20 includes lunch in Essex." For more information, call the store.