There was no action at my bird feeders this morning. Not a bird in sight. Okay, I thought, maybe the shrike is back, or there's an accipiter on the roof.
I'd promised to make French toast for breakfast, so I turned my focus to the empty frying pan on the stove. Eggs, toast and cinnamon, then the coffee grinder. As I brought breakfast to the table, Tom whispered - stop! stand still! look at the feeders!
I stopped and looked at the window, then slowly, very slowly, grabbed my camera. Yep... this Sharp-shinned Hawk was at my birdfeeders.
He took off and perched in the maple west of the house. I tip-toed out the back door and circled around the house, hoping to come up behind him. No such luck. He saw me coming and flew off to the trees down by Misha Mokwa Creek.
I took this as an omen. I had to go out and look for a Golden Eagle. Tom agreed. So off we went.
I had stopped to look at one of several flocks of Horned Larks along the roadside. When I got to the point where I violated their interpersonal distance, they flew. Then I looked up. There it was - soaring just above the hills to the east. When it banked and zoomed towards us, its slightly dihedral wings made me pause.
I grabbed my binoculars, noted the white patches on the wings and tail. No doubt about it - a Golden Eagle. I hopped out of the Prius and aimed my camera. Snap. In seconds it was gone, heading towards the Maxville School on State Road 25 - just a mile north of my house.
I got back in car and we continued looking for Bald Eagles and deer carcasses. We didn't find any. However, we did get an unusually close look at a Black-capped Chickadee. It was sitting in the middle of County V. How close could we get in the stealth Prius?
I pulled up right next to it, got out of the car and walked right over to it, bird-whispering all the way. Eyes closed, it seemed the bird was sitting on the road, sunbathing, soaking-up the rays. But it was odd. As I knelt down to pick it up, it let out a startled "chick-a-dee-dee-dee," and flew away.
That's when I realized what was wrong with this picture. The chickadee left behind a relatively large pile of guano - unnaturally pink and watery. It might have been hit by a car - or maybe it picked up salmonella at the feeders just down the road (they looked as if they hadn't been cleaned in years).