Blackbird & sparrowhawk

To: "Canberra Birds" <>
Subject: Blackbird & sparrowhawk
From: "John Layton" <>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2014 18:16:33 +1100

The male Common Blackbird perched mutely atop a Box Elder seemingly content to luxuriate in the brief, pre-dawn coolness. He sat still as stone, sable plumage and orange bill quietly resplendent in the bluish light of early day. Suddenly, he dropped from his perch, wings pumping as he accelerated down and turned left so he brought up on the foliage of a Roman Cypress some 20 metres away. Within a fraction of a second of alighting he’d disappeared into the cypress; no mean feat given the tightly spaced branches and thick foliage. I happen to know that this particular rooster has a nest in exotic shrubbery about 15 metres further on.

I’d not had time to collect my thoughts before a flickering of wings flashed between the cypress and the box elder, disappearing up and over a neighbouring house. A Collared Sparrowhawk, I guessed.

I had to go indoors at this juncture returning to try to pick up on the action 10 minutes later. I opened the back door which is 10 metres from the cypress and saw nothing at first, then could scarcely believe my eyes and luck as a sparrowhawk materialised out of the ether and grabbed a precarious perch on the columnar cypress. It spread its wings, struggling to maintain balance in what was obviously a very awkward position, while moving its head from side to side as it tried to peek into the cypress.

Looked a bit comical, kind of Disney-esc. I could visualise little Nero safely ensconced in his fragrant Roman fortress thumbing his beak while Fumble Feathers, the hawk broiled his brains in the gathering heat and went sans brecky wecky.

After 30 seconds the hawk lofted from the cypress and flickered away. I did a quick recon, saw nothing and repaired to the air cooler and morning news.

Went out again at 08:30 and there was the hawk hunched atop the box elder where I’d first noticed the blackbird earlier. But I couldn’t tell if he looked satiated or frustrated. It’s hard to judge the mien of a mean-looking little accipiter.


John K. Layton



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