Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nature finds a balance

We have had a pigeon problem here since we arrived. They have taken up residence in the old barn and made quite a mess. As I plan renovation projects for the barn I always have to first plan major poop clean-up and devise ways to exclude the flying rats from the project area. I keep hoping a barn owl will take up residence, but so far that hasn't happened. This past fall the population really exploded. They went from about 12 to about 40 (its hard to get an exact count). I thought I'd have to start shooting them. Solving the problem hadn't worked its way far enough up the LIST to actually take such drastic steps, but the thoughts were there. Yesterday I noticed that the barn was very quiet. Usually you can hear them cooing and scrabbling about. I didn't see many pigeons on their normal roosting places. This morning while I was out doing chores there was an explosion of birds from all parts of the barn. One lone pigeon leading the way. They scattered across the fields and disappeared. As I turned I saw a ghostly white and gray image gliding into the open barn door. An owl, I thought. After returning to the house I looked back at the barn to see if any of the usual residents had returned. There on one of the cross members high in the peak of the roof sat a white and brown barred, long tailed hawk. I couldn't believe it. I watched it for a while with the binoculars.

It was a Coopers Hawk. It had moved into the neighborhood and in short order decimated the pigeon population. I couldn't be happier. Now if it will just leave the chickens alone ...
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