Bird Love

I have posted before about how the bird life varies from state to state.  Birds are adaptable and fascinating.  I never get tired of encountering a new bird.

I didn’t expect to see very many birds in Las Vegas, as it is not blanketed with water and trees, both of which draw birds.  But I was wrong.  I saw some of these.

Photo courtesy of askthe birds.org

Photo courtesy of askthebirds.org

The tail caught my eye, as otherwise it resembles a crow.  It’s a great-tailed grackle. Not to be confused with a boat-tailed grackle, its ocean-loving cousin.  I also saw these.

pigeonsOkay, so maybe you recognize the above birds.  I saw a few sparrows.  I spotted no seagulls, however, which are very common here.  A few Canadian geese rested their weary wings on a golf course.  But I see those here, too.  Incidentally, where *are* they going?  I mean, wouldn’t you want to go to Vegas if you were looking for warmer weather?  I know they don’t want to stick around here.  It’s just going to get colder.

Back to the grackle.  Sounds like a Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss creature, doesn’t it?  The grackle makes noises that sound like a rusty hinge.  They click and clack.  They chatter.  They make noises that “sound much better from a distance” from one scientist, due to their volume.  They are cheeky blackbirds.  I heard some of their bizarre cries when I went running and they made me smile.  I liked them very much.

Contrast those birds to the ones I saw from the passenger window this afternoon, driving up I-5.

Photo courtesy of tgreybirds.com

Photo courtesy of tgreybirds.com

It’s a Cooper’s hawk, aka chicken hawk.  I saw at least 11 of these buggers, perched near the top of bare-limbed trees.  There might have been a few other species of hawk.  But driving by at 60+ mph, I couldn’t look too closely.  I found the whole thing ominous.  They were sitting there, perfectly still.  Waiting.  Nothing cocky or brash here, only stealth.  Wikipedia says they rely almost totally on the element of surprise.  The mist/drizzle floated down as the autumnal gloom deepened. I wondered what they knew that we didn’t. Was there a storm coming and that prompted the need to hunt now?  Were they planning an attack, a la “The Birds”?  Where there are birds of prey, there must be prey to eat.  Like pigeons.  Gulp!

We will never know.   But the pigeons better watch their backs.