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Posts Tagged Wildlife

Monthly Science: Hawk and Squirrel, with Turkeys

All of the local turkeys come together during snow storms, often lingering in the circle of pine trees in our back yard to get some protection from the wind. Mary spotted a Cooper’s Hawk in the midst of the turkey flock, with its wings spread around a recently captured meal:

Hawk with squirrel - wings spread

Hawk with squirrel – wings spread

When she first saw it, the hawk had its back to us and looked like a cluster of dead pine branches; the recent back-to-back storms have cleared out quite a bit of deadwood.

When I quietly opened the back door for a better view, the hawk noticed and gave me the stinkeye from 100 feet away:

Hawk with squirrel - 2

Hawk with squirrel – 2

The flock had moved out of the pine circle to surround the hawk and examine the situation, although they weren’t harassing it:

Hawk with squirrel - 3

Hawk with squirrel – 3

We’ve counted 27 turkeys, more or less, on some days, well and truly outnumbering the hawk:

Hawk with squirrel - overview

Hawk with squirrel – overview

Fortunately, turkeys feed mainly on insects and seeds, rather than tearing into carrion, so they’re not competing for the prize:

Hawk with squirrel - detail

Hawk with squirrel – detail

Shortly after I gave up and went back inside, the hawk sank her (?) talons into the squirrel, lifted heavily into the air, circled around the pines, and flew off toward the Mighty Wappinger Creek out back.

A casual search suggests both the hawk and the squirrel weigh about 1 lb = 500 g: I’ll never complain about heavy grocery bags again!

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Suet Feeder Temporary Fix

The neighborhood raccoons made off with our steel-cage suet feeder, leaving a┬ádangling┬áchain, several puzzled woodpeckers, and a potential gap in Mary’s FeederWatch data. A quick Thingiverse search turned up a likely candidate and a few hours of 3D printing produced a replacement:

3D printed suet feeder

3D printed suet feeder

The cheerful party colors just sort of happened after I realized orange wasn’t the new steel.

I bandsawed the top plate from an acrylic sheet, rather than devote several hours to printing a simple disk with two slots. Said slots came from a bit of freehand work with the drill press, a step drill bit, and a nasty carbide milling bur(r).

The loops holding the chains won’t last for long, as hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers land with thump.

It hangs from the stub of a former ski pole, loosely secured to the bracket holding the former feeder, and extending another two feet over the abyss beyond the patio. I doubt the raccoons will remain daunted for long, but maybe they’ll catch a heart attack when it collapses.

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Hawk vs. Squirrel Scuffle

A light overnight snowfall revealed an early morning drama:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - overview

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – overview

I think a hawk stooped on a squirrel, perhaps launching from the utility pole by the garden, scuffled across the driveway to the right, and hauled breakfast off to a nearby tree:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - approach

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – approach

The driveway always shows many tracks, but the ones entering from the center-right don’t continue out the left:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - tracks right

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – tracks right

Another view:

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle - tracks left

Hawk vs squirrel scuffle – tracks left

A pair of squirrel pups appeared in the last week. They’d make a good, easily carried hawk breakfast.

Go, hawk, go!

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Critters on the Patio

A light snowfall revealed plenty of overnight traffic on the patio:

Small animal tracks in the snow

Small animal tracks in the snow

I should set up an IR camera to watch what’s going on out there!

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Salty Spider

An unusual ingredient in the water softener salt reservoir:

Spider atop Water Softener Salt

Spider atop Water Softener Salt

They’re everywhere!

I figured it found a way in and can find its own way out, so I just closed the lid and backed carefully away …

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Monthly Science: USDA Inspection Stamps

I recently bought a pair of pork belly packages, one labeled “Local” at an additional buck a pound. They were packaged skin side downward, so the USDA inspection stamps came as a surprise:

Pork Belly Skin - USDA Stamps

Pork Belly Skin – USDA Stamps

Turns out the digits give the “establishment number”, which you can look up online. These came from a processor in Pine Plains.

We presume they keep track of their pigs …

The meat is curing even as I type. Next week: smoking.

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Honeybee for Supper

We often have supper on the patio, with a fly swatter at the ready, but honeybees get special treatment:

Honeybee on cooked squash

Honeybee on cooked squash

She surveyed both our plates, landed on my cooked squash, and probed into the crevices as she would to extract nectar from a flower. The weather has been dry for the last few days and we think she was looking for anything providing a bit of moisture.

I splashed some water on the table and plopped that part of the squash nearby, in the hopes she’d find what she needs. We’ll never know the end of the story.

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