Cooper’s Shock

Warning: Graphic images of a hawk eating prey below

Our friendly neighborhood songbird terrorist has been making more frequent visits to our back yard. I’ve seen ‘our’ Cooper’s Hawk almost every day this week. One day I was filling the feeders when I stopped to examine a pile of grey feathers on the ground. I suspected Coop got one of our fat juicy little Mourning Doves and was calling back to the house to tell Arthur, when suddenly I saw a big shadow out of the corner of my eye. A Cooper’s Hawk took off from the grass path behind our fence, and I was fairly awestruck. Just moments later, as I was facing the house and talking to Arthur, he saw *another* Cooper’s Hawk take off from somewhere behind the fence. Two Coops at once?! Oh my.

Usually we can tell the hawk is around by the lack of birds at the feeders. Often we can then find Coop in the tree behind our yard, scoping for prey. Although he usually keeps a low profile, a couple of days ago we were surprised to find him perched on our large T-shaped feeder pole. On one side of the pole we keep a suet log which is favored by Downy Woodpeckers. There was Coop, king of the yard, perched on the highest pole. And there was Downy, frozen on the side of the log facing away from the hawk. Oh, how I wish I had gotten a photo of that! Coop finally took off flying to the right, and the Downy zipped around to the other side of the log in the same instant, in the blink of an eye. Here’s Coop perched on the post, without any frightened birds hiding below.

CoopOnPerch

Yesterday Coop caught a House Sparrow and proceeded to eat it on one of our fence posts. This was the first time we’d actually seen the hawk eating, even though we’ve seen piles of feathers on the ground several times, indicating at least a scuffle if not an outright kill. Final warning: Graphic images & video of a hawk eating prey follow.

First there was a lot of plucking. Then came the eating. Soon a squirrel came and disturbed the hawk. First it seemed to be mantling over its prey; finally it flew off with lunch in talons.

Cooper's Hawk with prey

Cooper's Hakw eating a House Sparrow

Cooper's Hawk eating prey

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One Response to Cooper’s Shock

  1. Mary Carlson says:

    Amy, this must be the “season” for hawks visiting back yards. This morning my daughter and others found a Cooper’s Hawk on our church grounds running around. It apparently was injured but instead of trying to chase the bird or capture it, my daughter called a local rehab center. After a couple of phone calls, someone (more experienced) from the center came by and captured the bird. Sad to say, it doesn’t look good for the bird. I think we were told it’s a broken shoulder and birds generally do not survive that type of “breakage.” At least you got a couple of healthy looking birds of prey there.

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