WARNING: This is going to be a graphic post, with some blood and obvious bird death. You might want to skip it if you're squeamish.
I've said before that if a raptor were ever to attack birds in my yard, I'd like to be around to see it. Sadly, that happened this afternoon, and I was there for all but the initial attack (thank god for that tender mercy), and although the pictures aren't great (the sun was already just about down, on a cloudy day), it's pretty clear what happened.
I was in the kitchen cooking some cornbread when I happened to look out the window and see a very large bird at the back platform feeder. I thought it was a crow at first, but it looked different; I didn't even imagine it might be a UPDATE! it's a Cooper's hawk, not a red-tailed, per LauraHinNJ--thanks!--until I went out on the porch and saw him there, pecking at something in that characteristic grab-and-tear motion. I shuddered, grabbed the camera, and started shooting:
It was far too dark to digiscope; all those pictures were just blurs. This is on full digital zoom, 8.3X, on Night Landscape mode, with no flash, taken through the open window on my three-season porch.
When he finished and flew off, I went outside. I saw him doing a flyover--he's just a little blobby speck here against the dark snowclouds above:
Here are the photos I took of the (gulp) remains on the feeder:
This next photo is a little bloody--get ready, or just scroll down to the next one. I'll leave a little space:
My heart just broke when I saw that photo on the computer; outside, it was already so dark that I couldn't really tell what I was seeing. I didn't realize it was blood until I saw it on the computer screen.
I was surprised that I couldn't find so much as a beak or a foot; he ate everything but the feathers you see here. I looked on the ground but could find no trace other than a few more feathers. Most were gray, but there were also some brownish ones.
It could've been anything--a junco, a tufted titmouse, a sparrow.
I know that raptors are known for attacking birdfeeders, as they present the hawks with easy prey. And I know that hawk needed to eat; it's cold out there, and he needs food to create the energy that will warm him. It was just really hard to see it happening out there in my peaceful little yard.