All winter my family enjoys the visits of songbirds to our bird feeders. Actually we keep the feeders filled well into spring with hopes of attracting an interesting migratory bird, and start up again in early October for the same reason. Little black-capped chickadees and American goldfinches eat the thistle seed. Juncos, sparrows and mourning doves hop around on the ground eating what the cardinals, finches and blue jays knock down from the big hanging feeder. And wrens, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers hang upside down nibbling at the suet cakes. We also enjoy the antics of the squirrels who hang from the feeders and the occasional visit of fun-loving raccoons.
About a week ago I was sitting on the patio by the fishpond when a small hawk landed in a maple tree about 20 feet away from me, and about 10 feet away from the bird feeding area. It sat for maybe 5 minutes then flew off. I thought that was neat, but at the time didn't think much of it. Last week I was doing some yard work and enjoying the early spring weather when I heard what sounded like a pair of "jungle birds". I looked up and saw the small hawk again. I chased it around with my camera and it flew to a large tree in front of the neighbor's house where a second small hawk was sitting. I took a photo of it and left my yard work to identify the birds. Turns out they are Cooper's Hawks. We saw one again yesterday. It's kinda' neat to think they might be a breeding pair and we might have little hawk babies later this spring.
It has occurred to me that I haven't seen many songbirds at the feeders the past week or so, and I've let the big feeder go empty while I think about the following... If I continue feeding the songbirds, is that akin to setting up a smorgasbord for the hawks? If I don't feed the songbirds (thus not attracting them to the feeder-of-death) will the Cooper's Hawks leave? How is this different than spreading bird netting over my pond to protect my goldfish and bullfrogs from Great Blue Herons?