Suburban Bird Drama

We get a lot of birds around our house in the ‘burbs. I’m not an ornithologist by any stretch, but the longer I live here and the more birds I see, the more I learn about them.

My interest was piqued last weekend as I was getting ready to make huevos rancheros for Sunday brunch. I was banging a few pots together when I heard a thunk and “eek!” from upstairs. I ran up to see what was going on and found Martine in the bedroom all bug-eyed, saying that a bird had crashed into the patio door and then another bird had come along and carried it off. We looked around, and sure enough, there was a bird perched on a TV antenna about 60 metres away with what appeared to be a dead bird dangling from its talons (the fact that our neighbourhood is full of TV antennas is a whole separate discussion).

I grabbed my binoculars and saw that it was a small bird of prey–later identified as a merlin–and he had what appeared to be a dead mourning dove. Speculation from a birding friend is that that the merlin deliberately chased the dove into the patio door.

I ran downstairs and got my camera. It doesn’t have a long lens but I figured maybe I could crop the picture and get something faintly interesting. I came back upstairs and as I was getting the camera ready Martine said “It’s gone!”

I looked over and sure enough, the the TV antenna was empty. A second later I see the merlin flying straight at us at top speed, still clutching the mourning dove. It was being chased by two other birds (unidentified). A second later, just before the merlin crashed into the patio door, it pulled up “top gun” style and whizzed over the house, passing over our heads by just a few feet. It still had the dead dove in its grip.

Not a chance of getting a photo. Everything happened too fast. So I went back to my huevos rancheros knowing Martine and I were not the only ones eating well in the neighbourhood that day.

Spat!

The mourning dove left quite an impression.