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Friday, August 31, 2007

Attack of the Copper Hawk

Attack of the Copper Hawk

Yesterday I was on the phone while Blue was resting quietly in his cage. As fall approaches, new birds have appeared at the feeder. This morning we finally started to get Scrub Jays again. Since we moved only a block away, we have had none all summer despite using every known trick to attract them. We have been blessed with many other types of birds we have never seen before.

As I was talking to my sister, I heard a loud “bang!” and Blue started shrieking his call of distress and fear. I looked up and it took a moment to focus on the mammoth bird now attached to my screen, wings spread, a giant Cooper Hawk. He saw the other birds, spotted Blue, and went in for the kill. Of course, the thick glass window stopped him. However, he clung for a moment. I am sure the knock surprised him too. Blue was shrieking and I dropped the phone. My instinct was to go or the camera, but Blue was very upset. He could have injured himself if I did not get him out of his cage. The Copper Hawk took a full minute to rest on the porch, perched proudly on the side rail of our balcony. Then he flew off to better hunting grounds.

Blue was frightened to death. He clung to me all day. I had to block his view of the outside to be able to allow him back in his cage. This worked and he began to play and act normal. The return of the Scrub Jays this morning also brightened his spirits. He loves to hide peanuts while they hide theirs.

Blue is flying again. He now flies all over the house and we set up places he can easily roost and hide peanuts. They always like to be higher then everyone else. We only let him fly when we are home and fans and stoves are off.

Hawks do not frequent this area, but I have to admit. I have been too nervous to take him out for his sunbath. I can just imagine a hawk seeing him in such a venerable state and plucking him from me as I watched helplessly. I will wait a few days to make sure this hawk does not return. They are known to be very ballsy and sometimes stubborn.

My sister has an aviary outside. It’s huge and contains Cockatiels. Made of wood and heavy metal screening, the hawk could not get inside. However, he tried for weeks until my sister covered the aviary until the Hawk gave up. It did injure one bird that recovered.

This was in an area that is prime hunting ground for hawks. Yet this Hawk opted to stay for a week and spend nearly all day studying the aviary.

9 comments:

adam said...
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adam said...
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Realist said...
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Teresa said...

Hi there, My name is Teresa and I'm a graduate student in animal behavior at University of CA Davis. I study behavior in western scrub jays.
I was wondering if you know for sure that Blue is male? I saw one of your videos on youtube "Rescued Scub Jay baths, sings, dances and more." and at the end Blue mimics you. The sound Blue makes is a "rattle call" that only wild females make. I wondered if Blue is actually female or if wild males CAN make that call but don't due to social constraints/learning or something else.
I hope you are feeling well and that Blue is healthy and happy as well.
Thanks for any information.
-Teresa

Realist said...

Hi Teressa,
I only know what one very good vet told me, or maybe just did not want me to know I was wrong for ten years.
I know its very hard to tell. I said Blue is a male. She noded.
So I am not 100%. Tell me about the call more. The one trill he does I have heard other scrubs do. Although Blue learned his from the phone.
But good news your the first to hear. A documentary is going to made of Blue and I. I will be posting on it soon. Blue does many things that amaze me, and I am the most Realist type there is. He or she still learns at age ten like Blue was young. I worry about his eye. I am saving up for an operation that may restore his eye site in his one bad eye. I would rate his intelligence as much like a dog but Blue can learn even as it grows old. It is protective, empathetic, kind, feisty, playful and serene. He runs this house to a degree. He thinks he is second in command. He is protective of the finches. He has passed them food.
He used to ride my cats head. Cat had no claws and I did not do it. He was given to me that way. But it made for an interesting relationshio.
If I can help in research in anyway let me know.
Thanks!
Tim Rumford

Realist said...

Sorr I am so tired tonight, but i would say Blue makes a mixture of sounds that are a mixture of real scrub jay calls and songs. He sings softly to himself. He sings and dances to my sounds or hand signals. Hi learned the classic shrill or cackle from the telephone. And I notice a slight difference and so do the wild jays. A few single jays have befriended him, Blue has passed food to a wild jay on a reg basis for a bit.

Packs of jays hate him and will attack him. They see him as sounding and being somehow a threat. He once escaped as a youngster and flew to play with 50 Scrubs in a pack when I dropped his transfer cage. They fought and left, Blue flew back very scared but uninjured. That was only one of two times he has interacted with large groups which we have. he still befriends single jays. I wanted Blue to be a free bird and contacted every emergency service and they told me to let him die. I decided I could not do that but play with him five hours a day. He needs that much attention. or at least me near him for 5 or more, and 3 hours of play.
So I try and tell people how fast they cant be released and ways that have worked. And what they are getting into. Its a long commitment. Blue is very happy.

Hope that helps some.
Thanks
Tim

TBone said...

Hi Tim,
I hope you and Blue are healthy and happy! I had a very specific question regarding the color of Blue's mouth. I've read and seen that young jays have pink tongues and it turns black as they age. I am specifically curious about the throat- behind the tongue. This area is visible if they open up to get a peanut. I've seen some that are bright pink and others that seem to be a bit darker but I need to know if adult jays have black throats or if they are still pink or pinkish.
Thank you very much!
Has the documentary come out yet?
Kind regards,
-Teresa

Realist said...

Hi, well i have Blue tested as you may have read and he is a boy if this is the same Teresa. I guess my instinct was right. DNA was the only final answer. When I first read your question, I believed it to be dark, but upon inspection, he was on my head, it is pinkish, much like a the color of our gum's. I inspected very thoroughly. It is certainly not black, certainly a light color, even at the very furthest visible area behind the tongue, it is far from black. I do know a professor who studies the spatial memory of Scrub Jays and has had many. He may have some non California Scrub Jays you could ask him about. There seem to be slight differences, particularly between the Florida Scrub. Email me if you would like his contact info. Hopefully he is still available. He had gone with his birds to do his research in Europe. It's been awhile since I emailed him. Blue is happy and healthy and I much better than last year. Have not been posting much this year but answer questions and got through the spring onslaught of rescue questions. Hope this is helpful. Feel free to ask anything if it helps your studies. I could take a picture I think. Blue is used to me having me trim his nails and even at times his beak and now doesn't even think of it as a bad thing nor does he stress out at all over being handled like that by me. He is more scared of any thing like big, sheets, especially if they are blue, oddly. Peace Tim

TBone said...

Thanks for checking and getting back to me so quickly. If you do take a picture of the mouth, please let me know. I'd love to see it.
I'm glad you two are doing well and impressed you went to the trouble to learn if Blue really was male.