Lately, we've had several visits from this beautiful fellow. A few people have told me he looks like a Merlin falcon. Others have said he might be an immature Cooper's hawk. I've looked at the bird guide, and can't quite figure out what he is. We have a raptor hospital nearby, so I may have to take his picture over there and ask for an identification. At any rate, he's pretty amazing to see perched in our yard. He let me come within 10 or 15 feet of him to snap these pictures. The zoom lens helped, too. I would say he's about the length of my forearm, from elbow to fingertip. Say, about 17-18 inches. He's a beauty.
Edited to add: The experts at the Raptor Trust have identified him (her?) as a Cooper's Hawk.
We've had a lot of other avian visitors as well. I love scattering some bread on the deck, and then listening for the bird calls that signal "birdie smorgasbord!"
Here's my favorite crow picture. I had tossed some grapes on our deck, and this glossy guy was peering through the french doors at me, waiting to see if it was safe to snatch them up.
Isn't this grackle beautiful? Just look at all the colors in his coat. Grackles travel in huge flocks, and they are noisy and combative -- always fighting over the same piece of bread. But taken individually, they are lovely -- shining feathers gleaming in the sun.
Finally, here is a little Slate-colored Junco. Shy and sweet, always ready to nip in and snatch a few bites before the other birds come back for seconds.
I'm so looking forward to spring this year, and these birds are harbingers. The days are getting just a little longer, and the earth just a little warmer. Hooray! Hurry, spring!