PATIENT PREDATOR – THE RAPTOR STRIKES

This Dove was eating from a bird feeder less than twenty seconds ago.

The Doves show up in small groups, more like a covey than a flock. They like it on the ground. Many even nest on the ground. They like to peck around on what the bossy Blue Jays in their feeding frenzy fling to the ground.

The Jays are the bullies of the feeder. They don’t act so tough when the Pileated Wood Pecker shows up. You know; Woody Wood Pecker. I think somebody mated a chicken with flying Reptile.

Even though the doves like the ground, there are always one or two who like to check out the feeder eight feet above them. When they decide to return to the ground to join their family and friends, they sort of flutter down slowly.

That’s when the Cooper’s Hawk from the last post turned his head. He is hardwired to notice such an action. If you think he doesn’t know what a Dove is, you are wrong. That Dove is the best piece of meat that feeder has seen all day.

When I was growing up I was taught how to hunt Doves. By fourteen I could pluck them from the air with a twenty gauge shotgun. The 22 rifle was the weapon of choice. The Doves loved power lines, and set in a row of several or so, and could easily be picked off without leaving the vehicle. If shot in the head with the 22 the delicious breast was left intact.

Shooting Doves in Indiana was illegal, but I was taught by men, who first of all didn’t care about laws made in Indianapolis by soft handed men who had never fired a gun of any kind.
The men who taught me had been doing this since long before there were such laws, and they did it to provide food for their families. It wasn’t sport. It was survival. Ironically ; now there is a legal Dove hunting season in our State. It’ strictly for sport of course.

Some of this I tell you as a History lesson. Some of it I tell you so that you can understand how I can take photographs such as this. I understand these animals and how they behave. I’m not bragging. Someone said ;” It’s not bragging if you can do it”.

The Dove had only about eight feet to float and flutter down. Once the Cooper’s Hawk spotted him he covered over thirty yards before the Dove reached the ground. Quite astounding when you think about it. He was perched and not moving at all. There was a brief struggle, as you can see from the feathers scattered about. It wasn’t so much a struggle as the Hawk just finding his grip. There was never really any contest at all.

The Hawk got his grip and the Dove resigned itself, and the look in their eyes tells the whole story.

Now you know why the terms Hawks and Doves are used when people speak of war.

This image is the property of Randy Copeland Inc.
It may not be used or reproduced in any way without written permission.

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