what is the most unusual critter

you'd ever expect to see chasing and eating grasshoppers?
this morning i was doing the usual and looked out the window to see a harrier (hawk, otherwise known as marsh hawk) sitting near one of the bird baths. it must be a juvenile, as most of the day it wandered around the yard and chased grasshoppers and whatever else it could catch. much entertainment, some pictures and perhaps a movie, but i don't know how well any of them turned out yet. it never flew very far, but when it did it appeared that all the feathers and wings were functioning ok, but my guess is that it was recently pushed out of the nest and is now learning to fend for itself.
and here it was a while ago i was wondering what would come and eat all those huge grass- hoppers. i'm hoping he/she will become a regular to chase after the chipmunks and mice. that would be grand. :)
songbird
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songbird wrote:

the movies didn't turn out well (using zoom i need a tripod), but some pictures did:
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8256_Harrier_Hunting.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8248_Harrier_BB.jpg
i think it could be a juvenile Northern Harrier (or a Hen Harrier), which are not particularly rare, but this is the first time we've had one wandering around the yard for the day.
other tweety pic (we have a lot of blue birds around this year, i counted about 30 in a tree yesterday, they're having fun in the north hedge going after berries lately):
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8237_Blue_Bird.jpg
these turned out nice this year:
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8220_Red_Sunflower.jpg
and i finally got some seedling pictures in a different folder, but i haven't gotten the links page set up yet... will add more eventually.
http://www.anthive.com/seedlings/100_8223_cedar_tree_1st_year.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/seedlings/100_7780_crocus.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/seedlings/100_7619_cedar_tree_2nd_year.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/seedlings/100_7603_tulip_2nd_year.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/seedlings/100_7591_soup_pea.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/seedlings/100_7577_tulip.jpg
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songbird said:

I don't think that's a harrier. Going by the 'belly band' it's more likely a juvenile red tail hawk.
Harrier's have a 'facial disc' something like an owl has; they use sound as well a sight while hunting, usually over marshland or open fields, staying barely above the grass tops.
Grasshoppers are on lots of menus (including human). Many species of raptors will dine on grasshoppers some ofthe time. (Swainson's hawks dine almost exclusively on grasshoppers on their winter range in South America.)

--
Pat in Plymouth MI

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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

when a Red-Tail hawk poops does it flip it's butt up?

when we first saw it from a distance we thought it was an owl, when it looked right at you it had the look of an owl, then we got a closer look at it and it had to be a hawk.
the reason i'm guessing it is a Harrier is that the picture in the guide i'm using (Audubon North American Birds) shows the Red- Tailed hawk as having pale yellow legs with fuzz coming down further (no picture of the feet). the Harrier picture shows yellow feet and legs and the fuzz not quite as far down. But i will also admit i'm not an expert in bird ID...

it surprised me. :) i thought they were entirely carnivore and possibly scavengers if needed in the winter.
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songbird said:

poop away from the nest/roost.

Though aharrier has longer legs in proportion to body size than a buteo like the red tail, when a red tail 'stands at attention' it will show more leg thanwhen in a relaxed posture.
The key field mark for a harrier (in addition to shape, flight pattern, and behavior) is a prominent white rump which it shows in all plumages. The wings and tail are also longer and more slender than the much more common buteo hawks.
Red tails are rather variable in plumage; the ones in Michigan tend to be light phase (and some can be quite pale). The red tail only occurs in adults, but in some sub-species, even adults don't have the classic rust-red tail.
Red tails tend to hunt from perches. Harriers almost exclusively hunt on the wing.

It's a lot of fun to watch a kestrel hunting (they do a lot of hovering). Despite the fact that they were once referred to as sparrow hawks, they mostly eat grasshoppers and small rodents.
Since I'm a supporter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I should recommend their web site:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/
Don't miss the link to earch their bird guide (with sounds): http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

it visited again today and wandered the same areas and did about the same thing. i have a few very nice pictures and perhaps a movie too. gotta get them off the camera and see how they look on a better screen.

ah, yes, that makes sense. :) just strikes me as funny as all get out. like, "Take that!"

this bird has a definitive white rump (underneath) i don't see any other markings when it flips it's butt up to poo.
does the red tail have other markings on the butt from underneath?

that is where this bird stands out as a red tail as it does climb up on perches, sits there a while and listens and watches then it might pounce. but it also does this walk across the ground, it will sit and listen and watch and then chase things, it's very funny as the bird is about as graceful as a bull in a china shop.

yes, we have hawks on the wing and can often hear them calling throughout the season. we also have the large turkey vultures soaring about. very fun to watch them when they swarm and circle.

thanks, i'm checking them out to see if i can really place this bird as one or the other.
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songbird wrote:

does this picture help more for a certain id?
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8284_Not_Sure.jpg
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says...

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-tailed_hawk/id
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/spp_photos.aspx?spp=4&sppidB2 &keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&heightH8&width5
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songbird said:

Juvenile red tailed hawk.
Most definitely a buteo rather than a harrier--short legs and tail.
You might be pleased to know that one of the red tailed hawk pair that have been observed by the nest camera at Cornell seemed to specialize in chipmunks. Maybe your young one will learn to catch them!
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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

thanks. :) i'll correct my file names and links...

i haven't seen a single chipmunk in days. i can hope so. :) it was a treat to get a few strawberries yesterday.
we had to run to the airport today so i am not sure if it was wandering around in the yard again or not.
i would not mind having it as a regular resident as it is very peaceful bird (never heard it make any calls) and somewhat calm when huntings/stalking other than the few bouts of humor when it is chasing some- thing.
i am still quite amazed at how calm it was even when i was outside and not too far from it. it would turn its head to look at me and then go right back to stalking, perching and looking and listening for food. i got up on the roof and did some work up there and it didn't even budge from the perch for most of the hour until it finally found something worth pouncing on.
i sure would not get very close to it knowingly as it does look to have very sharp/big claws and a very pointy beak.
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songbird wrote:
updated links:
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8284_Red_Tail.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8256_Red_Tail_Hunting.jpg
http://www.anthive.com/flowers/100_8248_Red_Tail_BB.jpg
thanks! :)
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songbird said:

That part is called the 'vent' or 'undertail coverts.' The 'rump' is above the tail.
See: http://www.infovisual.info/02/053_en.html

The dark morphs will be dark, the light morphs usually clear white.
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Pat Kiewicz wrote:

i noticed the different usage of the word than what i expected it to be after i posted that. :) so what i would call the lower back is the rump.

clear white it is.
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On Monday, September 16, 2013 5:20:58 PM UTC-5, songbird wrote:

I thought your question was going to be...
What is the most unusual critter... you've seen in your garden?
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Davej wrote:

it would be the same answer as i've never seen a juvenile red tailed hawk before in the years here. otherwise we have a wide range of creatures that wander through.
after the two days of it being around we missed it returning as it was much fun to watch, but we hoped it was finally able to move on and perhaps start migrating to a warmer southern habitat for the coming winter.
a few days ago there was a lone squirrel taking a drink from the cement pond (not too often we see squirrels here). a baby snake up by the back door. a mashed green praying mantis in the door frame (was probably not noticed when closing the door).
the other day picking beans from the back trellis i heard a ring necked pheasant call (used to be a common thing, but not as much the past few years) and saw a blue heron fly past. earlier i saw a large brown praying mantis in a different garden where i was picking beans.
last night i smelled a skunk, heard cats and raccoons squabbling.
tonight it finally rained again, but not windy. the two gardens i've managed to get planted for fall/winter cover have sprouted and look funny as we are not used to having grains/grasses growing. i'm glad to have it rain as we would rather have skyfall dihydrogen oxide than well water.
good thing i picked more beans before it rained so they can keep dry until i get them shelled, sorted and eventually weighed and noted.
still finding new varieties. :)
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