Sharp-shinned Hawk encounter on Friday the 13th 2015

I really don't pay much attention to Friday the 13th lore but this past Friday, February 13, 2015, it was bad luck for a little Sparrow. While working in my office that morning I noticed a Sharp-shinned Hawk sitting in a small tree outside the office window. I grabbed my camera and took a few photos of it sitting in the tree as it searched the immediate area for a meal.
This is an event that happens from time to time and I will usually get a few photos to work with of this large colorful bird. This particular bird was a little smaller than some of the Hawks that have visited in the past. It was a little larger that a Mourning Dove which would later prove to be a problem for him. After an uneventful morning for me, the appearance of the Hawk and the opportunity to photograph him was quite exciting. I knew he was probably hunting for small birds or rodents so I settled in with my camera to observe him in the hopes of getting some unique shots.
The entire sequence of events I photographed took about 12 minutes. In that time I shot about 450 frames and spent a couple of hours sorting and editing the raw files. I am not a birding expert so the sequence of events surrounding this encounter was educational and somewhat emotional as I tried to record this darker side of nature.
Before I get to the photos, I want to remind everyone that some of my recent images are on exhibit at the Page Theatre Lobby at St Mary's University. The images can be viewed from 10am thru 6pm weekdays at the Theatre. There will be a closing reception there on February 26, 2015 from 5:30pm until 7:30pm and you are all invited.

Please click on the images to enlarge them.

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is very similar in appearance to the larger Cooper's
Hawk. They have some really long and sharp talons.
This Hawk was scanning the trees, bushes and snow covered ground looking
for prey. 
 After spotting his prey in a nearby bush, this Hawk dove into the bush and
attacked it.
He emerged from the bush within a couple of seconds. At first I could not tell
if he had caught anything. It soon became obvious to me that he had caught and
killed a small bird. I expected to see him start to eat his catch but something
else seemed to be on his mind.
I pulled back from my camera to scan the area and saw that this Crow had
 landed a few feet from him and was watching the Hawk.
The Hawk tried to flee with the Sparrow he had just killed but was forced back
to the ground by another approaching Crow that flared right in front of the Hawk.
I again pulled back from the camera and now saw 3 Crows trying to surround the
 Hawk and his prey.
I was totally surprised at how brazen the Crows were as they did not seem to fear
 the Hawk and tried to get the fresh kill from him. The Hawk was fluffed up and
looking fierce and had no intention of giving up his prey.
The Hawk kept an eye on the Crows as they got closer and closer to him and
his prey.
As the Crows maneuvered closer to him, the Hawk saw an opportunity and
took off with his prey in the blink of an eye. The Hawk was last seen heading
over the roof of the house with 3 Crows close behind. 
I was not able to get shots of the Hawk leaving as it took me totally by surprise. I wondered what the final outcome was but I was thrilled to have been able to witness and photograph this encounter.


  1. Fantastic photos & story Al!
    So sorry I won't be able to be at the closing reception but I will see the show before then!


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