February 1, 2010

Our feathered friends

Hail to thee, blithe spirit: Fossil feathers reveal dinosaurs' true colours. Above, an artist's impression of Sinosauropteryx, from Wikipedia.

I know what you're thinking. Looks just like a Spotted Towhee, right? Or close enough. One of my favorite visitors:

Spotted Towhee by Rick Leche on Flickr.

A young Cooper's Hawk showed up in the yard last week. The first time I saw him he was staggering around on top of the brushpile like a drunk in a dark room, with a dozen sparrows and finches frozen beneath his talons. He fumbled around for a bit and flew off, but returned the next day and nabbed a warbler. Collateral damage: an American Goldfinch that I suspect was injured trying to escape. The goldfinch lay on the ground panting and flailing, and I got a shoebox with a towel ready and called one of our local wildlife rehabilitators.

Although some might be inclined to put a poor goldfinch out of his misery in a case like this, keep in mind that 1) killing him yourself is a violation of federal law, and 2) he might have an excellent chance of recovery with the help of a skilled rehabber*. Sad to report, this little guy didn't make it. Plan B: pop tiny body in freezer for delivery at later date to local raptor rehab.

Hummingbird Hospital
Hummingbird Hospital Part 2
Hummingbird Hospital Part 3
Release Day

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