Jim Fowler is most known for his birds of prey, but today the 85-year old has his sights set on smaller birds when bird watching.
“As an observer and naturist, I’ve always enjoyed trying to identify the smaller birds,” he says picking up a small pair of binoculars. “And with these binoculars, I can see anything that comes in here.”
Fowler puts a variety of seeds in his feeder to attract birds. “I use a lot of sunflower seeds, and I put smaller seeds in there too.”
Fowler’s Backyard Bird Watching Tip for Success
He says the key to attracting birds is to give them cover, so they aren’t out in the open for very long.
“A bird is genetically programmed to not stay out in the open for very long.”
He points to a bush sticking out near The Fowler Feeder. “The birds go to the hedge and are protected and then come to the feeder and then off and quickly hide.”
Birds of Prey at the Feeder
Fowler’s eye light up when he asks if we know what a Cooper’s Hawk is. It’s easy to see that predators are his favorite bird.
He explains that Cooper’s Hawks are a forest bird called Accipiters.
Accipiters are hawks that inhabit deeply wooded areas. They have short rounded wings and long rudder-like tails which allow them to maneuver among the trees while chasing their prey.
The Cooper’s Hawk is chiefly a bird-eating hawk, and almost any bird up to the size of a pheasant qualifies as prey. In addition to birds, it also captures mammals, including squirrels and rabbits, and occasionally takes lizards and amphibians.
What are Accipiters?
Accipiters are hawks that inhabit deeply wooded areas. They have short rounded wings and long rudder-like tails which allow them to maneuver among the trees. Their recognizable flight pattern consists of several rapid flaps and then a glide.There are three North American Accipiters.
- Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Sharp-shinned Hawks are the smallest of the three North American accipiters. They measure 10 to 14 inches long and have wingspans of about 2 feet.They get their name from the “shins” of its legs which are not round, but oval and rather sharp. The small head is round, and the long, square-tipped tail has narrow black and gray bands.
- Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
The Cooper’s Hawk is a larger version of the Sharp-shinned Hawk, and the two are alike in color and markings. The Cooper’s is crow-sized, 15 to 20 inches long, and has a wing-span of three feet.The Cooper’s Hawk is chiefly a bird-eating hawk, and almost any bird up to the size of a pheasant qualifies as prey. In addition to birds, it also captures mammals, including squirrels and rabbits, and occasionally takes lizards and amphibians.
- Northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
The Goshawk is a powerful raptor and the largest of the North American accipiters. It’s 20 to 26 inches long with a wingspan of 3 to 4 feet.Their prey consists of birds, from songbirds to ducks and grouse. They also capture numbers of mammals, ranging from mice and chipmunks to rabbits and woodchucks. Goshawks hunt from perches or on the wing. They’re aggressive and persistent in pursuit of food and have been known to chase prey on foot.
Fowler says he hasn’t had a bird of prey like a Cooper’s Hawk at the feeder lately, but last fall one visited his feeder.
“A Cooper’s Hawk came in and nailed one of the birds at the feeder, right here,” he says.
He says it serves as a reminder that nature is not such a nice place as everybody thinks it is.
“Animals are fighting, killing and eating each other. Humans don’t work that way, but nature does,” he says. ‘The predators take off the weak and sick so they don’t breed, that’s why everything in nature that survives is very tuned in and successful.”
He says that’s why he doesn’t mind if a hawk occasionally comes into his feeder area.
“It’s just nature being nature.”
Check back for the third segment of Catching Up with Wild Kingdom’s Star Jim Fowler here.