You Can’t Get Action Like This On TV


A small and large raptor in a local tree. South Indianapolis, 9/15/15

You already know this or you wouldn’t be reading a birding blog, but as I tell my family and co-workers, you can’t get action like Birdwatching on TV.

In July I had a couple of things happen that kept me inside too much.  Not a big deal except I watched way to much TV and didn’t do enough birdwatching.

And I don’t care how good a TV show is it still isn’t as good as any of my birding outings.

So instead of watching TV or hanging out on the internet I have been trying to bird the small wooded area and pond behind our house a few nights a week. And even if nothing speculator happens it is still just BETTER.

For example the other night I went out about a half hour before sunset.  As I was walking to my car to get my binoculars a raptor was flying low over the cut grass in front of the pond. Since I still haven’t changed my biases (see previous 2 posts) I immediately thought Cooper’s Hawk, but then thought I had better check it out.

And there in the Red-tailed Hawk Tree (appropriately named since there always seems to be one of the local pair there) was a small raptor and one of the Red-tailed Hawks.  Definitely not a Cooper’s Hawk, unless it was a real small one. With the setting sun in the background I couldn’t ID it. So I started moving north to get the bird at a better angle.

As I’m moving I’m thinking Merlin since I haven’t seen an American Kestrel around, but a Merlin wouldn’t be sitting that close to a Red-tailed Hawk without severely harassing it.  So maybe an early Sharp-shinned Hawk?

I finally get a somewhat bad angle and get a few photos hoping I can lighten them later if need be.  Still can’t ID it though.


I keep moving and the smaller bird has moved a few times from branch to branch.  The Red-tailed stays put.  I’m just about to the point I can see enough colors to make an ID and the Red-tailed flies. Which also makes the smaller bird fly, chasing it. They go over the tree line and I see the smaller bird make a pass at the Red-tailed.  Still thinking maybe Merlin. And actually my heart is pounding from the excitement.

But they keep heading north and out of sight. So no ID.

Later I finally get a chance to look at the photos.  Luckily I got a photo of the bird when it was moving from branch to branch.  And that made an ID possible.


Since no other small raptor has reddish, narrow tail bands I can tell it is a female American Kestrel. Not really that surprising but since I hadn’t seen one in the area I really thought it might be something else. South Indianapolis 9/15/15

So as I started off the post, the fun of trying to ID the raptor in the field and the subsequent viewing the photos to confirm the ID, was much more entertaining than any TV show.

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3 Responses to You Can’t Get Action Like This On TV

  1. Matthew says:

    Great post!!! I couldn’t agree with you more. The latest stats I read indicate the average American spends 35 hours per week watching TV. That’s 5 hours a day! If you do the math, it comes out to just shy of 76 days per year. I gave up all TV service quite a few years ago and I’m glad I did. There are to many books to read and birds to track down to be stuck inside being force-fed programming.

    I enjoyed the birding challenge of this post – working along with you trying to figure out the bird based on your photos. It’s small posts like these that can add to our birding skills so thanks for sharing!

    • BobC says:

      I’m still guilty of watching an hour or so of TV per day. Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, etc. I can watch them when I want. Before those services I probably didn’t watch but a couple hours per week. But like everything if it is convenient we do more of it.

      I wish I had the patience to just sit and watch the action in the field. Sometimes I keep moving when I should sit and watch. I could probably get better pictures…

      • Matthew says:

        “I wish I had the patience to just sit and watch the action in the field. Sometimes I keep moving when I should sit and watch.”

        I think a lot of us are guilty of that – especially those who have been birding for awhile.

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