As a casual nature photographer, I do believe that every picture tells a story, and this seemingly simple image is no exception. But it's a sad story.
Bird activity has been slow around my house all fall. Lots of Black-capped Chickadees, some sporadic American Goldfinches, a Dark-eyed Junco and Red-breasted Nuthatch or two, a few Blue Jays, and a single Downy Woodpecker has been it for many weeks. It's been the slowest autumn of woodpecker activity we've ever had, as they forage on all the natural foods out there. One little downy had been all we'd seen in weeks.
A few days ago I was working at my computer that sits on a desk overlooking my yard and birdfeeding stations. Just after noon, I heard a bird glance against a window on the other side of the room, followed by catching out of the corner of my eye the movement of a large bird on our deck.
A bird had lightly struck the window, probably fleeing from the large bird - a Cooper's Hawk on the hunt. The hawk then plucked his prey, either straight off the window or off the deck, and flew to the yard to begin consuming it. I thought I saw the bird he held was mostly black and white. But as I got up for binoculars and camera and approached the window, the hawk flew off with the bird in his clutches.
I never really got a good look at the unlucky bird, but I did think it seemed bigger than a chickadee, and mostly black and white. I checked the feathers on the window, but they're mostly white down feathers that insulate a bird, and their size and color (or lack of it) tell me nothing.
What has somewhat confirmed my fear that I had lost my only Downy Woodpecker to this hawk strike is that my downy has been absent ever since. When you only have a few birds visiting your yard, the absence of even one is noticeable and notable.
I know there are more Downy Woodpeckers out there feasting in nature, and I wish for their speedy return to my feeders to fill the void created by my lost little downy.