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Don't Eat My Chickadee Please!

Bald Eagle in Charleston, Utah Winter on it's way in Midway, UtahA sure sign of winter  landed in the trees above Deer Creek the other day. Bald Eagles return to the valley and will stay as long as there is open water. They chase the ospreys out. I spotted this guy the other day near Deer Creek. A few weeks ago I went out to find a Marsh Hawk to photo while hiking around Deer Creek at the shallow end. I have been working on two paintings of Northern Harriers, (Marsh Hawk) for a client in Colorado and needed some detailed photos.
Magpie Watercolor by Janet Johnson ArtistI saw a hawk taunting a family of magpies. Of course, magpies taunt everyone, so they had it coming. After watching them for a while it was apparent they were in the midst of a game of bird tag. The hawk would go after the magpies, as they stood on the top of the oak brush and screeched. Once the hawk landed, the tables were turned and the magpies would nose dive the hawk. The tag game went on and on across the hillside. I was not able to get a good photo of the activity and couldn't tell if the hawk was even a Northern Harrier. I would have to find other sources for my painting.
Northern Harrier Female with Chicks painting by Janet Johnson Hawk watching bird feeder at home in Midway UtahYesterday, as I hiked, I thought about the final details to add to the painting of the female harrier that I had almost finished. Sure enough, I looked up and could see the white rump of a hawk gliding towards me. The female Harrier circled over my head not 10 feet away. She tilted and rose up and down on the thermals all within feet of me. For about 8 minutes she stayed near me, showing all the details of feathers and face. I had forgotten my camera, so I sat back and watched the show. I noticed I needed to change the tint of the feathers in my painting, based on this real life model.   I hiked up there again today, hopping to see the hawk. Some Harriers migrate in November, but many stay all winter. Along with a few other hawks, they find a feast at our back yard feeders, like this one I photographed a winter ago. No, they aren’t eating birdseed. They put another meaning to “chickadee pudding”. Ahhh, the great circle of life, leave my song birds alone hawk! see my work at 
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BY JANET JOHNSON   11/18/2010

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