Destinations Magazine

Photo Essay: Sharp-shinned Hawk Suffers Through Toronto Snowstorm

By Frame To Frame - Bob And Jean @frametoframebJ

Snow on Toronto backyard table

As the winter storm hits Toronto today, many of us are, without a doubt, contemplating how we will weather the onslaught of heavy snow whether it be digging out the drifts, getting to work or arriving home in time for dinner.

Sharp-shinned Hawk takes a break in snowstorm -Toronto - Canada

Well, this poor unfortunate Sharp-shinned hawk was not faring very well in my backyard yesterday as it looked for some unsuspecting prey.  Birds seem to know when nasty weather is brewing, and this individual has been visiting my property frequently over the past couple of days, likely hoping for an easy catch to sustain him while the blizzard unfolds.

Bird feeder lost in snow storm in Toronto

When it flew in, with the present snowstorm just beginning to ramp up, one of our bird feeders looked like this,  weighed down with snow and no birds in sight.

Birds prior to snowstorm in Toronto

Had the hawk only arrived two hours prior to the onset of the snowstorm, it would have found these guys hanging around the same feeder.

Sharp-shinned Hawk holds on with one claw during snowstorm in Toronto - Canada

But its timing was off, and so the hawk just sat in our apple tree and searched the boughs of our cedar trees from afar.

Suet feeder lost in snowstorm in Toronto

The birds having quickly made themselves scarce, our suet feeder sat empty except for the collecting snow.

Nuthack gets food before storm

Two hours before the hawk’s arrival, the same suet feeder was serving up breakfast to a nuthatch.

Sharp-shinned Hawk has had enough of the snowstorm in Toronto - Canada

The hawk was attentive to its surroundings, so I kept hidden behind my camera as I monitored it through my kitchen window.

In this video that Bob filmed, you get a chance to observe the hawk on its perch.

Sharp-shinned Hawk holds on with two claws during snowstorm in Toronto - Canada

Suddenly, the hawk lifted its tail revealing the tell-tale pencil-thin legs of the sharp-shinned variety of hawk.  I thought it was about to depart.

Sharp-shinned Hawk sums up his thoughts on the snowstorm in Toronto - Canada

Instead, the hawk relieved itself, which, I think, pretty much summed up its thoughts about hoping to find something to eat in my snowy backyard.

Sharp-shinned Hawk prepares to take flight in snowstorm in Toronto - Canada

Moments later, the hawk actually did prepare for liftoff.

Sharp-shinned Hawk flies into Toronto snowstorm - Canada

In a blur of wings and feet, the hawk took to the air.

Sharp-shinned Hawk's flight into Toronto snowstorm - Canada

The hawk’s talons can be seen neatly tucked up under the spread tail feathers.  I am sure they will soon make contact with some small prey, but hopefully not in my backyard.  I am too fond of the cardinals, juncos, nuthatches and woodpeckers that frequent my feeders.

Sharp-shinned Hawk flies into Toronto snowstorm - Canada

Sharp-shinned Hawk vanishing into falling snow in Toronto - Canada

The wide extension of the hawk’s wings propelled it quickly out of the apple tree, and then it disappeared over top of the neighbours’ houses.

Snow falling in North Toronto - abandoned bird feeders

A snowy backyard in Toronto - Canada

With more than 12 inches of snow already accumulated on my patio table, we sit and wait for the storm to end.  Maybe then, the hawk will have an easier time of finding something to eat.

Birds returned to feeder after Hawk left

Bird sits in bush during toronto snowstorm

Bird at feeder during Toronto snowstorm

In the meantime, a flock of sparrows, together with the juncos, nuthatches and cardinals, have gathered once again at my feeding stations while the snow swirls around them.

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