What shows up at your feeders is so unpredictable. In winter, I always expect Dark-eyed Juncos foraging on the ground below my feeders. Many winters, they’re about the only bird it seems I ever see, in my yard or elsewhere. Not this year, where they’ve been scarce in my yard. That’s been made up for with many more American Goldfinches than normal. I have one very tall tube feeder, and most of the winter it’s been very crowded, with most perches full and other Goldfinches waiting in the nearby tree for an open spot. It’s been a good year for Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, and I have at least two (a male and a female) gorgeous Red-bellied Woodpeckers who are quite regular at my suet. Despite the lack of Dark-eyed Juncos, it’s been a fairly “birdy” winter in my yard.
That “birdiness” level has been slowly declining all winter though. Simple attrition from a snowy winter would probably explain it, but in my yard, there’s another obvious factor. That factor is Clyde. Clyde is the Cooper’s Hawk that has been frequenting my yard, and buzzing my feeders all winter long. Why “Clyde”? I dunno. It starts with a C. He looks like a “Clyde”. Very workman-like and efficient, very “blue-collar”. Comes in regularly every day, punches the clock, does his thing, kills a bird or two…just the same hum-drum “Clyde” kind of a life for a Cooper’s Hawk.
My wife is not fond of Clyde. My wife does not appreciate the “nature” occurring in the yard. Clyde isn’t exactly subtle when he buzzes the yard and grabs a songbird. He’s also getting quite bold. Last week I opened the front door, and Clyde was sitting on the front step, munching on a goldfinch. Normally, you’d expect a wild bird to immediately bolt. Not Clyde. Clyde looked up at me, paused a second, before seemingly sighing and reluctantly flying off with his breakfast, clearly put out that I had interrupted him.I do have one concern about Clyde. He appears to be gaining weight at an alarming clip. He’s had a well-fed winter in my yard! It’s showing on his waist line, as he is one FAT Cooper’s Hawk!
Unlike my wife, I do think it’s very cool to have Clyde around. With the Big Sioux Recreation Area and a lot of forested habitat right across the street, Clyde may end up sticking around the area permanently.