Friday, May 30, 2008

sight of a lifetime

A buddy of mine located a sharpshin nest and we've been watching it for a couple weeks. I haven't seen much action, myself: mostly the male ("musket") preening, and the female once.

The babies are due to hatch fairly soon, so we've stepped up the observation.

There's a spot where they transfer food a short distance from this hiking trail. I got there about 5:40, sat down and barely 5 minutes later the musket showed up -- he cruised around me and up towards the nest site, but continued past. I lost him for a little while, though I saw him circle around high up once. About 10 minutes later he came back and chirped once. This time he had a little bird that he was plucking in the tree right next to the trail. I could see feathers dripping down. Then he moved and started chirping a lot, and the female came and they did a transfer. It was so fast it was like a mugging.

They were both gone for a few minutes, then he showed up and preened a short while, then flew deeper into the woods.

I didn't see the female come in, but just briefly they were both back at the transfer spot. Then she turned around and flew straight toward me, heading back to the nest. She flew *2 feet* over my head. The air rushing through her wings was loud as a stage whisper. I could have put my hand up and caught her, or more likely ended up with a sharpy-shaped hole in my hand. I was completely amazed and thinking I would never see something like this again.

I waited another 15 minutes to make sure they were away, then moved to a spot on the trail where we can best see the nest. This time I saw her tail tip, right against the tree. I saw her move twice, like she stood up and sat down again.

Jelly knees!

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