Monday, January 19, 2009


The starlings have been rather uncooperative as of late. I see lots of them on the power lines and in trees but haven't been able to find them on the ground for the life of me. After driving around for a couple hours and having the only starlings I saw on the ground head to the trees as I turned around I decided to head to the ol' reliable sparrow bush.

This is a bush in a small shopping center parking lot that is always LOADED withsparrows (there's a feeder nearby). We've had lots of flights out ofthis bush but hadn't connected for one reason or another. What usually happens is I slip her from the car on the first go around when the sparrows are out near the curb, over at the feeder, or sitting on top of the bush. She would pitch up into the tree above the bush or fly to one of the nearby buildings if she missed and I would flush the birds toward her resulting in more chases. The buildings were just a bit too far away for her to have a good chance from there and there's another bush that the sparrows dodge into before she can get a good shot at them from the tree. I noticed last time however, that the sparrows hold really well in the bush after the initial slip. It's a thick evergreen bush and I can imagine they feel pretty safe in there. I figured that if there was some way I could get my bird actually in to the bush though we'd probably catch one.

Well it happened just about like I thought it would. On the initial slip she chased a sparrow under a parked car but the sparrow hit the ground and bounced out going the opposite way back to the bush. Not to give up so easily my bird came out from under the car hot on it's tail and hit the bush just behind it. She was peering intently down into the bush as I pulled the car into a parking spot. Usually this is where she flies up to the tree or one of the buildings and I thought I would have to call her to the fist and kind of insert her in to the bush. As I exited the car though she suddenly ducked in tothe bush on her own!

I would say the bush is about 6' wide by 10' long and holds well over a hundred sparrows on a good day. This was a good day and I could hear the sparrows going nuts. Due to the thickness of the bush I couldn't see much but kind of tapped on the bushes to herd the sparrows to where I thought my bird was. I ducked down to see if I could see anything from a lower angle just in time to see my bird snag one as it tried to dash past her. Wahoo!

I've always been nervous flying sparrows because of the possibility of carrying. Catching them in the bush prevents that but fishing her out took a bit of work. When she could see me she tried to snag the tidbits off my glove and drag the sparrow toward me but it was so thick in there that the sparrow got snagged in the branches. I got her out though and she finished the sparrow on my glove.

Hopefully she's realized that she can be successful in the bush now. If the starlings won't cooperate then the bush is almost a guaranteed meal if she'll regularly go in after them.

Here's hoping #3 doesn't take as long!


Jon Uhart said...

Do you think she could catch a wild quail if you got her close enough to the flush?

Isaac Nichols said...

I don't think she could fly one down if that's what you're asking. She might be able to catch one if she saw it before it flushed but its not really the type of flight I would look for. Kestrels are opportunistic hunters and don't have the motor for long quail flights. Plus my bird is tiny even for a female. I'll bet a quail is at least twice as big as she is.