My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Announcing the new Mickey D’s McMallard Meal

Warning, although there are no graphic photos, a real mallard died to make this post possible.

I’ll probably get sued by McDonald’s for the title of this post, but what the heck. There may be some people who get upset over the fact that I am making light of the fact that a mallard was killed, but a hawk killed the mallard, not me. That’s nature, a life and death struggle between predator and prey that goes on constantly, it never ends.

I started out my walk on Saturday, going down to the end of the dead-end street I live on, then returning to walk around the rest of the apartment complex, when I spotted one of the sharp shinned hawks right at the corner.

Sharp shinned hawk

At first, I thought that the hawk had made a kill, and it had, but its kill had been taken away from it I learned later. I got closer to the hawk as it walked around the tree as if it was looking for something.

Sharp shinned hawk

Sharp shinned hawk

Sharp shinned hawk

I should apologize for the quality of these photos, the weather was rotten, it was right around freezing with winds high enough to have prompted a high wind warning from the weather service, and moderate snow falling as you will see in some of the pictures.

Sharp shinned hawk

I was wondering why the hawk was walking around the way it was.

Sharp shinned hawk

Then, it spotted me.

Sharp shinned hawk

And took flight, but instead of flying away from me, it flew directly at me!

Sharp shinned hawk taking off

Sharp shinned hawk taking off

It flew past me so close and so fast that the auto-focus of my camera couldn’t keep up.

Sharp shinned hawk in flight

That hasn’t been cropped at all, in fact, I was just beginning to duck at the time, forgetting that I was seeing the hawk through the camera lens zoomed in to 300 mm and the hawk wasn’t really as close as it appeared in the viewfinder. Next time I’ll have to remember to stand my ground. 😉

The hawk landed very close to me.

Sharp shinned hawk

Sharp shinned hawk

Sharp shinned hawk

The hawk sure was acting strange! I went over to where it had been walking around, and saw mallard feathers scattered everywhere, and blowing in the wind.

Mallard feathers

Mallard feather

But, I couldn’t find the rest of the mallard, just a few feathers, so I couldn’t tell if the hawk had made a kill or not.

I am going to jump ahead here, I’ll come back to a few more photos in a second. I was out there for a longer time than I normally am, and took enough photos to do three posts. As I said, the weather was nasty, so when I got half way around the complex, I stopped at the office to use the restroom, and warm up a little since I was already there. I learned that some one had dropped off a dead mallard at the office. Why they did, I have no idea, but that explains what I saw. The sharp shinned had indeed made a kill, a male mallard from the looks of the feathers. That goes with a photo I got several weeks ago, when a pair of mallards dove to escape the attack of a sharp shinned hawk, the male in that incident. Today’s photos are of the female from what I can tell. If I didn’t see the two of them hunting together on a regular basis, the identification today would have been much harder.

So that confirms something that I have been wondering about, sharp shinned hawks do attack and kill mallards, which also explains why the mallards have been staying back in the brush all winter long this year.

After Identifying the feathers, I went back to where the hawk had perched, she was still there, but acting more like she normally does.

Sharp shinned hawk in flight

I couldn’t get nearly as close to her as before.

Sharp shinned hawk

And, she watched me like a hawk. 😉

Sharp shinned hawk

But, she wasn’t about to leave, either.

Sharp shinned hawk

Sharp shinned hawk

She doesn’t look very happy, does she?

You can’t see it in that very blurry photo above from when the hawk flew right over me, but I could see her looking directly at me as I was taking that photo. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but I swear that she flew past me looking for the mallard that the other guy had taken from her.

I do know this, it was a day when very few people would venture out for a walk. The wind was brutal yet again, the story of the past week. But, I was out there, and so were the critters, as they have no choice in the matter. I think of these photos as my reward for being out there. You wouldn’t think that a day like today would be a good one for nature photography, but I find that I have some of my best days in bad weather. The photo quality may not be quite as good, but I often see more wildlife behaving more naturally than I do in good weather when there are more people around.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!


13 responses

  1. Pingback: My Week…Mariah « Quietsolopursuits's Blog

  2. nice 🙂 I love it…

    March 5, 2012 at 3:05 am

    • Thank you!

      March 5, 2012 at 10:15 am

  3. Plants Amaze Me

    What a great story, you see more action there near your apartments than I do sitting here in the woods. The hawk really wanted his mallard back, why would some one bring it to the office? And where was the mallard, in the trash?. Could you have gone dumpster diving to retrieve it for the hawk?
    Good thing the hawk didn’t attack you.
    Thanks for sharing this account.

    March 5, 2012 at 8:23 am

    • This place is about the best place for wildlife viewing that I have ever found, and it’s an apartment complex, go figure. I didn’t think of trying to return the mallard, I spent so much time trying to get a good photo of the ring-necked ducks and watching the waterfowl in the ponds that quite some time had gone by from the time I saw the hawk looking for its mallard, and when I stopped in at the office. And thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this. Love your excursions around Michigan as well.

      March 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

  4. Fantastic raptor photos! Too bad the hawk didn’t get to eat the mallard it killed- it’s only fair. I have ambivalent feelings toward predators, but they have to make a living too.

    March 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    • Thank you! Raptors are one of nature’s ways of controlling populations to keep everything in balance. They are beautiful birds as well, even though how they make their living isn’t always pretty.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:21 am

  5. I think it’s amazing that a hawk would let you get that close. It must have been awfully hungry, or maybe it’s just used to seeing you.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    • I think that it is a little of each. The hawk wanted its meal back, and that it is getting used to me being around. I don’t know if that is a good thing though.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

  6. Great story, and great photos of the Sharpie. 🙂

    March 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    • Thank you, and thank you for another fine series from the Big Bend Country!

      March 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

  7. Great hawk captures, since they usually won’t stay still for an op!

    March 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm

  8. Pingback: My Week…Sproing! « Quietsolopursuits's Blog