Friday, October 19, 2007

Preening for dummies

On Friday morning, I again had the privilege of watching a Sparrowhawk in the garden. A few weeks back, I saw a young female - this time, it was a young male. Again, he wasn't very interested in hunting (perhaps he'd eaten recently?) and instead spent more than an hour sitting on the garden fence watching the world go by and preening his feathers.

The other garden birds knew that they weren't really in danger and continued to use the feeder, only 12 feet away.

Hawk and a rose

The long, banded tail feathers were a bit tricky to reach; the hawk ran his bill along each one before letting them ping back into place

Important to keep those primaries in tip-top condition

Not sure what was going on here... perhaps some tidying of coverts

His toes got covered in down every time he folded one leg up into his breast feathers

It's important for Sparrowhawks to have clean toes so they had to come off somehow.

Portraits. On the top-left one you can see the nictitating membrane ('third eyelid)

Ready for action

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece


  1. Wonderful shots! My guess is that the feathers on his feet were not his... :-)

  2. Thanks for your nice comments. Matt, I wondered about that too, but every time he tucked his foot up into his feathers, and brought it down again, there was down snagged on his talons again.

  3. My goshawk's still shedding the occasional piece of down from her tummy, and she was hatched on May 26th...

  4. I hope it's that, actually. And that she's not just going bald.

  5. Great pictures. A rare treat

    We have few birds of prey here on Orkney, but there was a hen harrier hunting rabbits near the beach the day before yesterday.

  6. Great series of shots

  7. Tremendous shots. Thanks for sharing.