Oh, look. Who's that?
Oh, that's why there haven't been any birds around for the last hour. The sharp-shin is back!
The Indigo Hill sharp-shin as he appeared in November, 2007, the year of his hatch. He's in the spangled brown plumage of a juvenile. Now his back is blue as slate, with ruby eyes. My, how he’s grown, fueled by cardinals from our feeder.
All winter long and well into spring, we have played host to a sharp-shinned hawk. I’m almost certain, from his demeanor and habits, that he is the same little gentleman who was with us last year as a streaky, orange-eyed immature bird, and in 2007 as a rank juvenile (above). By that reckoning, and if it is indeed the same bird, he may be three years old now. He is smart, sleek and persistent, and he is an excellent hunter. Better than he was in 2007, and better than last year, to be sure.
Mostly, he presents himself as a blue bullet streaking about waist-high through the yard.
By the time the cardinal (almost invariably a male) is aware he’s being hunted he’s already being readied for processing into bite-sized bits. That’s a sharpie for you.
I love our sharpie. I choose to love him because I have attracted a small truckload of cardinals with my sunflower seed offerings; because I understand that a truckload (I’m talking 50-70) of cardinals in my yard is an unnatural concentration; and I accept the inevitability that somebody is going to take advantage of that. It is a perturbation in the natural scheme just begging for correction.
I also love him because he is beautiful.
He rockets through and alights in a tree like a piece of milkweed down, as if his talons snagged him suddenly there.
He looks about fiercely then settles into his bolt-upright comfort position, to stay for awhile and look for the unwary.
Doing so, he conjures Louis Fuertes and Lars Jonsson and the many sketches and paintings I’ve made of sharpies at rest, all tucked up and benign for a few moments.
He sees every small movement, in detail I can only imagine.
He rages and frets, cartwheels, always on the attack, feathers sleeked to his hard little body.
This is when I am glad I’m not a junco.
Thanks to a persistent Pakistani spammer, I've had to disable comments on this post for the morning. Let's hope Mr. showpanmohsin, who lists his only hobby as Playing Video Games, will get discouraged and go stuff beans up his nose. And then let's hope they sprout.