When you spend a lot of time outdoors you get to see strange things happen. Birds are consumate improvisors and they are always open to the demands of the moment. So while they may have regular habits, weird things do occur and the field guide will only help you to a point… the rest is just watching. Here now, with brief captions, are some oddities. Please add your unusual sightings in the comments.

This post could be called “Redshoulders do the darndest things” because they have great capacity for strange behaviour. They are known for capturing ground prey but as generalists they are more than happy to take birds… though Rock Pigeons are on the upper end of their scale. The hawk above had the pigeon by only a wingtip and a leg and had to drop it.

Grabbing the shoulders works out better for the hawk though it has to fight the drag from the pigeon’s outstretched wings. Check out the submariner Coot and the startled Great Blue Heron.

Tucked into the shadows the hawk can complete the kill. Unfortunately since this isn’t their usual prey it takes some time.

Osprey…? No, wait,Red-shouldered Hawk dragged into the water by the weight of its prey, a giant rat.

They will take baths but they prefer to do it on purpose.

Red-tailed Hawks eat worms. This one gets up early and finds them on the wet sidewalk.

One eyed birds often get put down or aren’t released but they can survive and can be fierce hunters, like this big female Redtail.

Redtail as Turkey Vulture? They like to sun too.

Fledglings have enough free time to try and smell the flowers.

You’ve seen the nictitating membrane but have you seen the crazy fuzzy white eyelid that comes up from the bottom when they sleep?

Redtails hunt at night… sometimes.

Common Ravens use weird tactics to intimidate hawks.

Heermann’s Gull bills can appear in Great Horned Owl pellets.

Anna’s Hummingbird… nectar in, nectar out.

What have you seen out of the ordinary lately?

Written by Walter
Walter Kitundu is an artist and designer, instrument builder and bird photographer. As an artist he has created hand built record players powered by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. Walter has performed and been in residence at art centers and science museums internationally. He has performed with the renowned Kronos Quartet, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, the electronic music duo Matmos, and the legendary Marshall Allen - in venues from Carnegie Hall to a high school library in Egilstaadir, Iceland. In 2008 Walter became a MacArthur Fellow. Walter loves photographing birds and is an ongoing volunteer with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. He was hooked when a Red-tailed Hawk landed at his side, ate a caterpillar, then refused to leave. He is a Senior Design Developer for the Studio Gallery at the Exploratorium in San Francisco where he designs and builds environments for learning. You can see more of his work on his blog, Bird Light Wind.